Toast of New York will look to become just that when he attempts to win
the first running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby on
Saturday at Belmont Park.
Photo: Susie Raisher, NYRA
The 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby is the centerpiece of the newly fashioned
Stars & Stripes Day, which also features the Grade 1, $1 million
Belmont Oaks, as well as the Grade 2 Suburban, Grade 3 Belmont Sprint
Championship, and Grade 3 Dwyer.
Toast of New York, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, rose to prominence
last year at the lesser known British track Wolverhampton, where he won a
pair of races over the local synthetic surface by a combined 28
lengths. Trainer Jamie Osborne and owner Mike Buckley, emboldened by
those efforts, shipped the bay colt to Dubai to compete in the Group 2
UAE Derby. Despite not having raced in nearly five months and tackling
stakes competition for the first time, Toast of New York won by an
authoritative 2 ½ lengths.
"He looks fantastic and he's been eating and drinking well since
shipping [to New York]," said Osborne, who arrived at Belmont early
Wednesday evening. "We gave him a little bit of a break after his trip
to Dubai and he's come back well. We're going slightly into unknown
territory with him since his best races have come over synthetic
surfaces, but he trains on turf and moves well over it, so I don't
foresee it being a problem."
Jamie Spencer, who rode Toast of New York to victory in the UAE Derby,
has the mount again, and the pair will break from the rail.
Toast of New York's main competition may come from French invader Gailo
Chop. Trained by Antoine De Watrigant for OTI Racing, Gailo Chop enters
the Belmont Derby on a four race winning streak that includes a pair of
Group 3 races in France and two wins at the Derby's 1 ¼-mile distance.
"There are a number of factors [why Gailo Chop is running in the
Belmont Derby]," said Terry Henderson, one of OTI's co-founders. "No. 1,
he couldn't start in the classics in France because he's a gelding.
Second, the race was suggested to us by a pair of people we respect:
[trainer] Christophe Clement and Emmanuel de Seroux. Third, the purse
being paid out got our attention. Put it this way, if the race was worth
what it was worth last year [$500,000 as the Jamaica Handicap in
October], we wouldn't be considering the race."
Regular rider Julien Auge will be aboard Gailo Chop, 5-1 on the morning line, and the duo will depart from post 7.
Globetrotting trainer Aidan O'Brien will send out Adelaide, who has a
Group 3 win to his credit to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes
in Group 2 races. The Ireland-based colt's most recent outing came in
the Group 2, 1 ½-mile King Edward VII at Royal Ascot, in which he
finished second, 3 ¼ lengths behind Eagle Top.
"Adelaide is a lovely colt," said O'Brien, who trains Adelaide for
Derrick Smith. "He's a very good mover with a great temperament, like
many of the Galileo's. He's only run four times to date but has improved
with every start and hopefully he'll do so again. He travels well in
his races so I'd be hopeful of a big run."
Adelaide will be ridden by Colm O'Donoghue from post 4, and is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
Bobby's Kitten, trained by Chad Brown for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, will
try to go 1 ¼ miles for the first time in his career on Saturday. In
2013, the bay colt won the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont by 6 ¼ lengths, an
effort that landed him the role of favorite in the Breeders' Cup
Juvenile Turf, in which he finished third. The son of Kitten's Joy won
his 2014 debut, then subsequently finished 12th in the Grade 1 Blue
Grass at Keeneland before returning to form in the Penn Mile, which he
won by 2 ¾ lengths.
"He's coming into the race good so far," said Brown. "He came out of
the Penn Mile well and he's had three breezes since. The distance is a
question mark, but he's bred to do it. If he relaxes and Javier
[Castellano] gives him a good trip, he should be able to get the extra
Bobby's Kitten will break from post 3 with Javier Castellano in the irons, and sits at 6-1 on the morning line.
Mr Speaker, who will go out for trainer Shug McGaughey and Phipps
Stable, will look to rebound after a disappointing fifth-place finish in
the Pennine Ridge at Belmont, the local prep for the Belmont Derby.
"He's training well right now," said McGaughey. "He didn't act like he
had running on his mind in the paddock [prior to the Pennine Ridge] and
he went to the post that way. His running style was not conducive to
what he wants to do, being on the lead shadowed by a 50-1 shot. The
whole thing was a disaster."
Prior to the Pennine Ridge, Mr Speaker won the Grade 3 Lexington at
Keeneland and the Grade 3 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park. He also
finished a fast-closing second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream
after encountering some early trouble in the race.
Jose Lezcano has the mount on Mr Speaker, 15-1 on the morning line, and the pair will break from post 9.
Australian powerhouse trainer Gai Waterhouse, making her first foray
into American racing, will saddle Pornichet. The son of Vespone finished
third in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains in France in his most
recent outing, while in the barn of former trainer Nicolas Clement.
Pornichet, owned by Jean Lebrun, rests at 10-1 on the morning line, and will break from post 8 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Rounding out the field are Dance With Fate, who captured the Grade 1
Blue Grass at Keeneland before enduring a rough trip in the Kentucky
Derby in his last start; Gala Award and Flamboyant, who finished 1-2 in
the Pennine Ridge; Global View, who finished second to Bobby's Kitten in
the Penn Mile in his latest outing; and Sheldon, a recent maiden winner
for trainer Jimmy Toner.