trio of international horses took to the Belmont Park turf course
shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday in preparation for Stars & Stripes
Photo: Susie Raisher, NYRA
the 3-1 morning-line co-favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont
Oaks Invitational, breezed one mile around the dogs in 1:46.79 over the
inner turf course, with Toast of New York and Pornichet, two of the top
contenders for the Grade 1, $1.25 Belmont Derby Invitational, galloping
over the surface.
by Francois Doumen for Martin Schwartz, Xcellence started her breeze
behind and to the outside of Predicting, who is trained by Jena
Antonucci. Xcellence tucked in behind Predicting in upper stretch before
angling outside and briefly poking her head in front of her workmate.
Xcellence was kept under restraint late to finish on roughly even terms
has finished third in a pair of Classic races in France, reporting home
3 ¾ lengths behind Avenir Certain in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des
Pouliches in May at Longchamp and 1 ¼ lengths behind that rival once
again in the Grade 1 Prix de Diane in June at Chantilly. She was
purchased by Schwartz following the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and will be transferred to New York-based trainer Chad Brown after the Belmont Oaks.
went very easy," said Doumen. "I didn't want her to have a hard work,
and because they opened the turf at 9 o'clock it was already getting
hot, I didn't want her to have a strong work. It was not a test. I just
wanted to take off the freshness. She hadn't done anything since she got
here last Thursday."
Buckley's Toast of New York, who is favored at 3-1 on the morning line
for the Belmont Derby off his 2 ½-length win in the Group 2 UAE Derby at
Meydan Race Course in March, had a leisurely gallop over the turf
you can see, we didn't go very fast," said trainer Jamie Osborne. "That
was always the plan. We aren't going to work him hard when he's here
prior to the race. I think he looks great. He's eating and drinking
well. He seems to have taken the whole thing pretty well. We're happy."
who breezed six furlongs on the turf in 1:16.11 on Tuesday at Belmont,
turned in a brisk gallop over the surface on Thursday. He is 10-1 on the
morning line after finishing third by 1 ¾ lengths in the Group 1 Poule
d'Essai des Poulains on May 11 at Longchamp.
did his main work on Tuesday morning, so this morning was what Gai
likes to call 'stretch and extend,'" said Adrian Bott, assistant to
owner/trainer Gai Waterhouse. "He's just out there, sort of having a
look around. He wasn't asked to do too much, he was held together, and
he was nice and relaxed and had a look around."
was purchased privately by Waterhouse in June and will become the
trainer's first starter in North America when he competes in the Belmont
the stable, it's a huge opportunity," said Bott. "It's a great thrill
for Gai to have a first runner over here, particularly in a race on such
a stage like this, in a Group 1 event. We're able to represent
Australia and bring the connections over here. They're very excited down