Thoroughbreds from Ireland, Great Britain and France will be travelling to Belmont Park to face some of the top 3-year-old turf colt and fillies in the United States in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby and the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks onduring the third edition of the Stars & Stripes Festival.
In all, 14 colts and 14 fillies have been invited to their respective 1 ¼-mile turf races, which highlight an 11-race card that includes four other graded stakes: The Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, the Grade 3, $500,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds, the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship and the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride for 3-year-old filly sprinters.
Legendary trainer Aidan O'Brien and owners Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor will be represented in the Derby by Beacon Rock, most recently second as the favorite in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes on June 17 at Royal Ascot, and Bravery, 10th over a soft course at Chantilly in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club on June 5. The connections also will send out Alice Springs, third last out in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, in the Oaks.
Completing the European invitees to the Derby is Chelsea Thoroughbreds Saint Tropez' Humphrey Bogart, sixth behind Across the Stars and Beacon Rock in the King Edward VII last time out and winner of the Betfred Derby Trial Stakes in May at Lingfield.
His Highness the Aga Khan's colors will be carried in the Oaks by the Dermot Weld-trained Simannka, who will be making her first start of the year. The Irish-bred daughter of Mastercraftsman made two starts as a juvenile, both at Galway, finishing second first time out and then defeating 11 others to break her maiden going seven furlongs.
Also invited to the Oaks are GroupHill Stakes winner Turret Rocks and the Fabrice Chappet-trained Magnanime, fifth last out in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary in May at Deauville.
Trainer Chad Brown will spearhead the American contingent with four possible entrants in the Derby, led by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Camelot Kitten, winner of two of his three starts this year including the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs and the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 4. Call Provision, third in the Pennine Ridge; the Ramsey's Billy's Kitten, making his stakes debut, and American Turf runner-up Beach Patrol round out Brown's Derby runners with Last Waltz and Priced to Perfection heading to the Oaks.
Making her Belmont debut in the Oaks for trainer Mark Casse will be Catch a Glimpse, who has won seven straight, including six consecutive graded stakes. The City Zip filly beat the boys last time out in the Grade 3 Penn Mile, having previously ticked off consecutive wins in the Grade 2 Natalma and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last year and the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride, Grade 3 Appalachian and Grade 3 Edgewood this spring.
Casse also will send out multiple graded stakes-winning Airoforce, runner-up to Catch a Glimpse in the Penn Mile, in the Derby.
Rounding out the invitees to the Derby are Florida import Applicator, winner of the Gleaming in May at Gulfstream Park; the Arnaud Delacour-trained Aquaphobia, who took the Stanton at Delaware Park last time out; Pennine Ridge runner-up Highland Sky from trainer Barclay Tagg; Ralis, seeking his first win since the Grade 1 Hopeful last year at Saratoga; Grade 3 Arlington Classic winner Surgical Strike, and Toughest 'Ombre, fourth last out in the Pennine Ridge.
The Oaks invitees include graded stakes winners Auntie Joy, who took the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs last out; Cheekaboo, 23-1 star of the Grade 2 Honeymoon on June 19 at Santa Anita Park; Decked Out, winner of the Grade 3 Providencia at Santa Anita for trainer Keith Desormeaux and jockey Kent Desormeaux; the Bill Mott-trained Harmonize, second to Time and Motion in the Wonder Again last time out; Reddam Racing's Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks winner Land Over Sea; Grade 3 Senorita winner Stays in Vegas from trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and Phillips Racing Partnership's Time and Motion, whose three-race win streak includes the Wonder Again and the Memories of Silver.
Source: NYRA Communications