Tonalist Returns in Westchester
April 30, 2015 11:53am

Tonalist, winner of the 2014 Belmont Stakes, brings his perfect 3-for-3 record back to his home track as he makes his first start of the year in the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester, one of a trio of graded stakes on Derby Day at Belmont Park.


In addition to the one-mile Westchester, the traditional prep for the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on June 6, the 12-race card at Belmont will feature the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for fillies and mares and the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy, both on the turf.


Live racing at Belmont Park will be complemented by a plethora of Kentucky-themed events, including a southern-style barbecue festival in the backyard and a Knob Creek bourbon tasting for adult guests. Following the races, fans can enjoy a live concert from Parachute.


Gates open at 10 a.m., with first race post time at noon.


Tonalist, who also captured the Grade 2 Peter Pan and the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, made his final start in 2014 in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park, in which he finished a rallying fifth.


The 4-year-old Tapit colt, undefeated in three starts at Belmont including last year's Grade 2 Peter Pan and the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, had his final prep for the Westchester on Wednesday, breezing four furlongs in 47.44 seconds over the main track.


"He had a very good blowout," said trainer Christophe Clement. "I outfitted him with a pair of blinkers to have him sharp enough, so it's exciting. It's a good race to bring him back, because it's Belmont Park. The big question mark is a mile, so let's run him and we'll go from there. The race will tell you where to go."


Joe Bravo will be aboard Tonalist, tabbed as the 3-5 favorite on the morning line following the withdrawal of 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice from the Westchester. The pair will leave from post position 1.


Making his first stakes start from trainer Jimmy Jerkens' barn will be the 4-year-old Juba, stretching out to a mile after a maiden win at 6 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream Park and a seven-furlong allowance score on April 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The Centennial Farms' color-bearer, second in his 2015 debut coming off a year-long layoff, will be making just his fifth career start.


He finished third as a 2-year-old at the Big A and second to Constitution last January at Gulfstream Park.


Angel Arroyo will ride Juba, tabbed at 3-1 on the morning line, from post position 2.


Rounding out the field are the Barclay Tagg-trained Confrontation, who has a pair of seconds and a fourth in three stakes starts this year at Gulfstream Park, earning triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in all three, and mid-Atlantic shipper Souper Lucky, most recently third in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes at Laurel Park.


The 5-year-old Palace Malice was entered Wednesday but withdrawn from the race Thursday due to a bruised right front foot. According to owner Cot Campbell, the multiple Grade 1 winner will next defend his title in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Saturday, June 6.


Source: NYRA Communications



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