Weekend Watch: Five stakes anchor Belmont 2018 Friday card

June 08, 2018 11:19am
Holy Helena wins 2018 Sheepshead Bay
Photo: Annette Jasko/NYRA

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival continues Friday with five stakes, four of them graded. On the docket are sprinters and turf routers/marathoners, one each for the ladies and the gents, as well as a listed stakes for juveniles. American Gal and Holy Helena are the big names in the entries, but we also get to see the return of talented sprinter Joking.

For the vertical players out there, good luck with this card! The stakes races are loaded and rather competitive and practically demand that you spread your money around.

Here are the highlights with post times listed in Eastern Time.

American Gal the one to beat in Bed o’ Roses

Kaleem Shah’s
American Gal has developed into quite the sprinter. A dual Grade 1 winner, the daughter of Concord Point does her best running on the lead and will look to build off her Humana Distaff (G1) victory in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses Invitational. She will face a field full of familiar rivals; however, Ivy Bell, who is her own worst enemy, and Highway Star are both cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. Ivy Bell most recently ran second to American Gal in the Humana Distaff while Highway Star just missed the win in the Critical Eye. While American Gal is certainly the one to beat, this is a tough field. Betting opportunities abound as several in the field are capable of springing the upset. Unless you feel strongly about one or two in here, this is a good race to go deep. Post time is 1:52 p.m.

Tremont draws seven juveniles

Tremont Stakes for 2-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs drew a field of seven, all last out winners. Girls Love Me has the highest Equibase speed figure but earned that number in a waiver maiden claiming event at Pimlico, making this a definite step up in class. Trainer Todd Pletcher has a strong trio in Sombeyay, Social Fan and Outshine. Of those three, I found Sombeyay to be the most impressive in breaking his maiden as he was knocked around quite a bit at the break but drew off to an open lengths victory. Post time is 2:56 p.m.

Joking returns in True North

Two years ago
Joking got up for a neck victory in the Grade 2 True North Stakes. He then won the Vosburgh (G1) but was unable to compete after that due to developing a life-threatening case of pneumonia. Owner and trainer Charlton Baker spared no expense in nursing his first ever top-level winner back to health, and the 9-year old gelding now looks to get back his old form. He will face a salty bunch including multiple graded stakes winners Whitmore and Imperial Hint, Grade 2 winner Bobby Abu Dhabi, and stakes winner Westwood. Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) winner Limousine Liberal could run but is also cross-entered in Saturday’s Met Mile. Post time is 4:42 p.m.

Holy Helena will try to keep streak alive

Queen’s Plate winner
Holy Helena has been perfect so far this year, ticking off three straight victories, the last two coming in graded stakes. She will face eight as she attempts to stretch that win streak to four in the Grade 2 New York Stakes. Chief among her competition are Jenny Wiley (G1) winner Sistercharlie, Bewitch (G3) winner Mom’s On Strike, and graded stakes winners Fourstar Crook and Daddys Lil Darling. Previous claimer Fahan Mura looks to be the speed of the race, but despite rattling off four straight in 2018, I do not expect her to be around at the end. Post time is 5:14 p.m.

Euros look strongest in Belmont Gold Cup

It isn’t often that you see a two-mile turf race in the United States, but that is just what the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational presents. For many in the field, it will be the first time they are asked to race that far, but there are a few in here that have raced at two or more miles prior to this event. Prince of Arran is actually wheeling back from a 2 5/16-mile event in England and is 6: 1-1-0 going two miles. Fellow shipper Funny Kid is 2: 1-0-1 at the distance and enters off a victory in the Prix de Barbeville (G3). As far as domestic runners are concerned, Run Time has won at this distance. However, considering that this is an unusual race, anything could happen. Post time is 5:46 p.m.


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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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