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American Pharoah headed to Haskell

American Pharoah is pointing to the Haskell (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Triple Crown hero American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) is on target for the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on August 2, owner Ahmed Zayat announced on Thursday.

"I've decided to do the logical step and run American Pharoah at Monmouth," Zayat told "I have complete confidence in Monmouth making this a very special day. I want it to be a great day for everyone that will celebrate racing."

The 1 1/8-mile Haskell has been one of the options bandied about for American Pharoah, who wrote his name in the history books when taking the Belmont S. (G1) last out on June 6 to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

The champion colt will attempt to carry the Zayat Stables color to yet another Haskell victory following the 2012 triumph by Paynter. It would also extend trainer Bob Baffert's existing Haskell record to eight.

"We were all waiting to see how American Pharoah worked and for me to give the OK," Baffert told "I liked the way he's training, the way he worked and how he came out of it very well.

"With no hiccups between now and then, the Haskell is the obvious spot for him."

American Pharoah worked three furlongs in :36 2/5 on Monday at Santa Anita Park in his first move since the Belmont Stakes. A trip back to New York could be in the bay colt's future as Zayat also told that Saratoga's $1.25 million Travers S. (G1) on August 29 could be next if American Pharoah does well in the Haskell.

"The horse comes first and we intend to run him as many times this year as he tells us he can," Zayat stated. "The hope is that he does in the Haskell what he loves to do, and that is winning."

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Main Sequence returns to defend United Nations title

Main Sequence could etch his name alongside such legends as Round Table and Manila (Carl Sari/Equi-Photo)
One year ago, dual Eclipse Award winner Main Sequence (Aldebaran) began his inexorable march through the U.S. turf scene by capturing his American debut in the $500,000 United Nations (G1) at Monmouth. On Sunday, the Niarchos Family's homebred returns in the same spot, hoping to re-start his 2015 campaign after a disappointing loss in Dubai.

Main Sequence is unbeaten in five U.S. starts for trainer Graham Motion, all accomplished with his flair for a dramatic, up-in-time finish. Off for eight months after his repatriation from Europe in the winter of 2013-14, he resurfaced in the 2014 United Nations and flew late to deny Twilight Eclipse (Purim). His ensuing victories in the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1), Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) earned him not only an Eclipse Award as champion turf male, but also the champion older male crown.

After reappearing triumphant in the February 21 Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream, where he defeated Twilight Eclipse for the fifth straight time, Main Sequence carried high hopes into the March 28 Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1). But he faded after a wide trip, and a middle move, and wound up seventh.

Main Sequence was freshened upon his return home, and Motion has been pleased with his recent works at Fair Hill.

"He is a very professional horse and is always straightforward," Motion said. "He's had no problems since coming back from Dubai.

"Both workouts have looked good. I could've ran him a few weeks ago, but wanted to put him in the best spot possible."

Regular rider Rajiv Maragh will be back aboard as Main Sequence breaks from post 6 in this 1 3/8-mile "Win & You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Should he repeat, Main Sequence would join an honor roll of two-time UN winners including Round Table (1957, 1959), Mongo (1962-63), Noble Dancer (1978-79), Manila (1986-87), Sandpit (1995-96), English Channel (2006-07) and Presious Passion (2008-09).

Stablemates Slumber and Big Blue Kitten ran one-two in the Manhattan (NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Adam Mooshian)
In addition to familiar foes Twilight Eclipse and Imagining (Giant's Causeway), Main Sequence will also face the Chad Brown duo of Slumber (Cacique) and Big Blue Kitten (Kitten's Joy) and streaking Southern California shipper Ashleyluvssugar (Game Plan).

Slumber has awakened since joining Brown late last year, with the application of blinkers conjuring up a career-best in the June 6 Manhattan H. (G1) at Belmont. Overlooked at 14-1, the seven-year-old finally earned a big prize when driving to a 2 3/4-length decision over favored stablemate Big Blue Kitten.

Big Blue Kitten, a fellow seven-year-old, seeks to regain the United Nations title he won back in 2013. The Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred has yet to scale the heights of that campaign, when he also captured the Sword Dancer and missed by a whisker in the Joe Hirsch. The honest and dependable type has nevertheless run well in the interim, and he kicked off 2015 with a convincing score in the May 2 Fort Marcy (G3). But he's got work to do to turn the tables on the resurgent Slumber, as well as Main Sequence, Twilight Eclipse and Imagining.

Since getting away from Main Sequence, turf veterans Twilight Eclipse and Imagining have had mixed results. Imagining left Twilight Eclipse back in third when taking the March 28 Pan American (G2), but was only fifth to that same rival in the May 9 Man o' War (G1). Twilight Eclipse scored a deserved Grade 1 breakthrough on that occasion, only to retreat to seventh last time in the Manhattan.

Ashleyluvssugar, in contrast, is an upwardly mobile four-year-old. Improved markedly since stretching out on the Santa Anita turf, the Peter Eurton trainee brings a three-race win skein including the March 21 San Luis Rey (G2) and May 24 Charles Whittingham (G2). This represents a much stiffer class test, but his gaudy 108 BRIS Speed figure from the San Luis Rey suggests that he could be up to it. Hall of Famer Gary Stevens comes in to maintain the partnership.

Rounding out the field are the Todd Pletcher-trained Divine Oath (Broken Vow), who's got a bit to find on form with these; Sycamore Lane (Artie Schiller), who makes an audacious stakes debut off a pair of allowance wins for Hall of Famer Bill Mott; and recent Ramsey claim Shining Copper (Aragorn), who has the look of a pacemaker for Big Blue Kitten.

Race Day, unraced since Oaklawn, makes his eagerly awaited return in the Salvator Mile (Coady Photography)
One race earlier at Monmouth, Race Day (Tapit) aims to continue his ascent in the handicap division in the $150,000 Salvator Mile (G3).

The Pletcher pupil has won five of his last six, his lone loss in that span a close third to Valid (Medaglia d'Oro) in the February 7 Fred Hooper (G3). The lightly raced four-year-old then successfully invaded Hot Springs, where he battled to a narrow victory in the March 14 Razorback (G3) and drew off commandingly in the April 11 Oaklawn H. (G2). Race Day has been unraced since then, but his bullet works of late imply he's ready. Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the return call.

Other contenders include the aforementioned Valid, who hasn't won since the Hooper and exits a second to the re-opposing Red Vine (Candy Ride) in the local prep, the Majestic Light; Bradester (Lion Heart), runner-up in last year's Salvator Mile to Itsmyluckyday and to Valid in the 2014 Monmouth Cup (G2); and millionaire Pants on Fire (Jump Start), who's eligible to rebound from an uncharacteristic seventh in the June 6 Metropolitan H. (G1).

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Summit of Speed boasts Work All Week, competitive fields

Work All Week (right) denied defending champion Secret Circle in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Sprint (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Gulfstream Park plays host to the $1.175 million Summit of Speed program on Sunday featuring 12 races, including the $250,000 Smile Sprint S. (G2) and $250,000 Princess Rooney S. (G2) sending runners six furlongs.

Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) hero and Eclipse champion Work All Week (City Zip) figures to be the most accomplished performer in the Smile Sprint while Merry Meadow (Henny Hughes) returns to the site of her Hurricane Bertie S. (G3) tour de force in the Princess Rooney. Each race is a "Win & You're In" to their respective Breeders' Cup sprint divisions for the winners.

Work All Week is seeking a return to the winner's circle after bruising a foot while running second in his 2015 debut, the Aristides S. (G3), on May 30 at Churchill Downs. The six-year-old gelding went 5-1-0 from six starts last year, including victories in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and Phoenix S. (G3), and will be making his Gulfstream bow in this spot under Florent Geroux for trainer Roger Brueggemann.

The homebred chestnut, who is campaigned by Richard and Karen Papiese's Midwest Thoroughbreds, readied for the Smile Sprint with a swift :46 1/5 breeze on June 28 under the Twin Spires, his second straight bullet move after going in :59 2/5 on June 21.

"We weren't looking for him to work that fast, but he did it all on his own," Richard Papiese said. "We hope it's an indication that he is going to run a big race this weekend."

Also of note in the Smile Sprint is Alsvid (Officer), who defeated Work All Week when taking the Aristides by two lengths. The Chris Hartman-trained gelding brings a three-race win streak into the event after taking an allowance/optional claimer in March prior to a three-quarter length score in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) about two weeks later.

Chris Landeros has been aboard for Alsvid's current win streak and retains the mount.

Grande Shores will be competing over his home track in the Smile Sprint, having recorded 13 in-the-money finishes from 16 career tries at Gulfstream. The seven-year-old Jacks or Better homebred seemingly has gotten better with age after his career had been compromised by a chronic digestive disorder that is under control but still demands constant monitoring.

"I know he's going to run his heart out," trainer Stanley Gold said. "There's going to be plenty of speed in it and he'll be coming. I'd rather see it be seven (furlongs) instead of six. He's going to have to be coming faster and start sooner. He's earned the shot. You hate to possibly get overmatched, but I can't say he is overmatched."

Eddie Castro, who rode Grande Shores to a three-quarter length victory in the Parrot Key S. last out, has the call.

Merry Meadow is no stranger to winning at Gulfstream (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)
The Princess Rooney takes place one race before the Smile Sprint and has attracted Merry Meadow, who will ship in from New York following a subpar sixth in the seven-furlong Inside Information S. (G2) on March 21.

"It was the distance and the way the race unfolded," trainer Mark Hennig revealed about the Inside Information. "She isn't really one that wants to be up there fighting for the lead. It's not her style. Knowing it was seven-eighths, it was the worst-case scenario. I think for her to get seven-eighths, she has to have an ideal trip, and she had a less-than-ideal trip at a less-than-ideal distance."

The five-year-old bay will cut back to her ideal distance of three-quarters while returning from a more than three-month freshening under Javier Castellano. The two paired up one race after Merry Meadow captured the Sky Beauty S. last November to take both the Sugar Swirl S. (G3) and Hurricane Bertie.

"She's been doing great," Hennig said. "It was the timing, more than anything else, and the distance, and it's on a familiar racetrack. Gulfstream making the accommodations to get there and back helped as well.

"She's always held her form," the conditioner added. "She's never really ever needed any one set track. She's traveled well and run on all kinds of surfaces. She's always been a pretty consistent runner. We were able to give her a little breather after (the Inside Information), and she's always run well fresh."

Earlier on the Summit of Speed program, 10 sophomore colts and geldings will go seven furlongs in the $150,000 Carry Back S. (G3) while nine three-year-old fillies take part in the $150,000 Azalea S. (G3) at the same distance.

Barbados (Speightstown) enters the Carry Back off a more than five-money break, having last been seen recording his third straight win in the Hutcheson S. (G3) over track and distance. The Azalea features the respective top three -- Huasca (Tiz Wonderful), Dogwood Trail (Awescome of Course) and Fond of Sarah (With Distinction) -- from the track and distance Tangelo H. on June 6, as well as Jostle S. vixen Warriorscmoutoplay (Warrior's Reward).

Five other stakes are carded for the day as well. Eight juveniles have been entered in the $75,000 Birdonthewire S. going 5 1/2 furlongs to kick off the stakes action, followed one race later by the fillies equivalent, the $75,000 Cassidy S., which drew nine runners.

The $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint attracted a field of nine to go five furlongs on the turf, while the $75,000 Miesque's Approval S. and sister race $75,000 Spook Express S. will each send contestants 1 1/16 miles on the green. The former will see 10 line up while the Spook Express boasts 15, including one main-track only entrant.

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Danish Dynaformer aims to give Attfield record ninth Queen's Plate

Plate Trial winner Danish Dynaformer rates as the 3-1 favorite on the morning line (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Charles Fipke's Danish Dynaformer (Dynaformer), Stronach Stables' Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper) and Bear Stables' filly Academic (Henny Hughes) head an ultra-competitive field of 14 for the C$1 million Queen's Plate, Canada's most famous horse race, Sunday at Woodbine.

Now in its 156th edition, the Plate is the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America. The classic for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds is held over 1 1/4 miles on the Polytrack.

At the Queen's Plate breakfast on Thursday morning, the selection order for post positions was drawn first via the traditional "pill-pull," followed by the choosing of post positions by the connections for each horse, a system which has been in place for the Plate since 1998.

Danish Dynaformer, one of two (Billy's Star [Perfect Soul] is the other) trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, will try to give his conditioner a record ninth Plate win and has been established as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite. Attfield chose post 7 with the second selection.

The Fipke homebred scored an impressive three-quarter length victory over Conquest Curlinate (Curlin) in the June 14 Plate Trial, his third win in six career starts. It followed a close third place finish to Plate rival Shaman Ghost in the Marine S. (Can-G3) on May 16. Twenty-five Plate Trial winners have gone on to win the King/Queen's Plate since 1944, the last being Big Red Mike in 2010.

"He's a really nice horse, no question about it," Attfield said. "He's got a big turn of foot and a huge cruising speed. He's a very versatile horse."

Attfield is currently tied with Harry Giddings Jr. for most Plate wins. His previous winners were Not Bourbon (for Fipke) in 2008, Regal Discovery (1995), Peteski (1993), Alydeed (1992), Izvestia (1990), With Approval (1989), Market Control (1987) and Norcliffe (1976). Peteski, Izvestia and With Approval all went on to win the Canadian Triple Crown.

Danish Dynaformer will be ridden by Patrick Husbands for the first time, since Luis Contreras, aboard for the Trial, was previously committed to Ami's Flatter (Flatter). Husbands has won the Plate twice, in 2003 with eventual Triple Crown winner Wando, then last year with filly Lexie Lou (Sligo Bay). The last jockey to win back-to-back Plates was Eurico Rosa da Silva in 2009-10, with Eye of the Leopard and Big Red Mike, respectively.

Billy's Star (15-1), with the aforementioned Rosa da Silva, currently Woodbine's leading rider aboard, finished a troubled sixth in the Trial, yet only five lengths behind his stablemate, after breaking his maiden in May at Woodbine over 1 1/16 miles. Also bred by Fipke but now owned by Perfect Timber Partnership, he was a $161,177 Canadian Select yearling purchase.

Shaman Ghost was last seen landing the Marine (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Stronach Stables' homebred Shaman Ghost (7-2) hasn't raced since his winning effort in the 1 1/16-mile Marine, when overcoming traffic with a powerful late stretch charge. Trained by Brian Lynch, Shaman Ghost will be ridden by Rafael Hernandez, who has piloted the colt to three consecutive wins, including the Marine.

"Winning form is the best form and he's won three in a row," said Lynch, who didn't have to pick a post when he drew number 14 in the selection order, and only the rail was left. "He's been doing everything well in those last three, really fighting to the wire in all of them. I like the way he doesn't give up. He just keeps on battling. Hopefully, he brings that same great fight with him to the Plate."

Stronach is a two-time Plate winner (Basqueian, 1994 and Awesome Again, 1997), while Lynch just missed winning the 2008 Plate with Stronach's filly Ginger Brew, finishing a head behind Not Bourbon.

Bear Stables' Academic (5-1), with Justin Stein aboard, scored a 66-1 shocker three weeks ago when wiring her rivals in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks. It was just the second start of the year for the filly. Her 1 1/8-mile time of 1.48.86 was a track record and almost one second faster than it took Danish Dynaformer to win the Trial a race before. Her connections drew the first post selection and picked post 4.

Academic, the field's leading money winner with $293,141 after being bought for $54,000 at the Ocala Two-Year-Olds In training Sale, will try to become the 36th filly to win the Plate since 1860, the eighth since 1956 and the seventh to sweep both the Oaks and the Plate, joining Flaming Page (1962), La Lorgnette (1985), Dance Smartly (1991), Dancethruthedawn (2001), Inglorious (2011) and Lexie Lou (2014).

Stein rode Strait of Dover to victory in the 2012 Plate, while Bear Stables and trainer Reade Baker, who will also saddle Bear At Last (Marchfield) and Breaking Lucky (Lookin at Lucky), finished third last year with Asserting Bear.

Breaking Lucky (20-1), owned by Gunpowder Farms, broke his maiden at Woodbine in April, then was second and seventh in two subsequent route allowance races. The son of 2010 Preakness (G1) winner Lookin At Lucky will be ridden by Jim McAleney, who has twice finished second in the Plate, aboard I And I in 2000 and Anglian Prince in 2002. Bear Stables' Bear At Last (30-1), a one-time winner in 11 outings to be ridden by Rico Walcott, was most recently seventh in the Plate Trial.

Academic takes on the boys after her track record-setting victory in the Woodbine Oaks (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Queen's Plate winterbook favourite Ami's Flatter (6-1), trained by Josie Carroll for owner-breeder Ivan Dalos, disappointed as the 3-5 favorite in the Marine, finishing seventh, five lengths behind Shaman Ghost. That result came after a competitive run on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, which saw him finish second to Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) in the Tampa Bay Derby (G1) at Tampa Bay Downs and third to Materiality (Afleet Alex) in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. The field's second leading money winner with $232,231 will be ridden by Contreras from the outside post 14.

Dalos, Carroll and Contreras teamed to finish second with Ami's Holiday (Harlan's Holiday) in last year's Plate. Carroll, though, has won two Plates -- Edenwold (2006) and Inglorious (2011) -- and is the only female trainer to even win the Plate while Contreras was aboard Inglorious for his first Plate score.

Seven-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer Mark Casse, who saddled last year's winner Lexie Lou, will try to win a second consecutive Plate with Conquest Stables' Conquest Boogaloo (Scat Daddy) and Bill and Vicki Poston's Oakton (Macho Uno). The last trainer to win back-to-back Plates was Mark Frostad in 2000-2001.

Conquest Boogaloo (8-1), a $190,000 Keeneland yearling buy, finished a closing troubled third in the Plate Trial, just two lengths behind Danish Dynaformer. He also encountered a difficult trip in the Marine, when eighth to Shaman Ghost. He's won two of seven, including last year's Swynford S., and will be handled by Alan Garcia. Oakton (20-1), a one-time winner in six starts, will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Pizarro, who finished second for Casse in the 2011 Plate aboard Hippolytus.

Chiefswood Stable's homebred Portree (Niigon) (12-1), trained by Stuart Simon and ridden by Gerry Olguin, finished an excellent fourth in the Plate Trial, just 2 1/2 lengths behind winner Danish Dynaformer, after leading in midstretch. It was just his third career start after winning his first two outings earlier this year. He'll try to become the eighth Plate winner since 1956 to be sired/foaled by a Plate winner. Chiefswood won the 2004 Plate with their homebred Niigon.

Trainer Mike Keogh will send out Gus Schickedanz's homebred Sweet Grass Creek (Wando) (20-1), a one-time winner in five starts. Keogh and Schickedanz teamed to win the 1999 Plate with Woodcarver, then captured the Triple Crown with Hall of Famer Wando in 2003. Jesse Campbell, who took the 2013 Plate aboard front-running Midnight Aria, has the mount.

Ami's Flatter, the winter book favorite, looks to restore his reputation (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Tucci Stables' Easy Indygo (Marchfield) (30-1), also purchased at the Ocala Two-Year-olds in training sale for $60,000, has won once in seven starts. Tucci Stables' won the 2013 Plate with Midnight Aria, while trainer Nick Gonzalez conditioned both Midnight Aria and 2010 Plate winner Big Red Mike. Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson is the only female rider to win the Plate in 2007 with Mike Fox.

Canyon Farms' British Columbia homebred Ault (English Channel) (30-1) will try to become the fourth horse since 1952 to break his maiden in the Plate, the latest to do so being Scatter the Gold in 2000. To be ridden by David Moran for trainer Dan Vella, he has been a close second in his three Woodbine Polytrack appearances, but out of the money in two grass attempts at Gulfstream Park this winter.

Canyon Farms won the 2012 Plate with another homebred, Strait of Dover, also a son of English Channel, while Vella, in addition to training Strait of Dover, won the 1994 Plate with Basqueian. Moran finished third in the 2010 Plate aboard Oaks winner Roan Inish.

Preston Stables' Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew) (30-1) has campaigned at Turfway Park, Keeneland and Churchill Downs, winning one of six starts. Trained by Pavel Matejka, Milwaukee Mist will be ridden by Gary Boulanger, who won the 2001 Plate with Oaks winner Dancethruthedawn.

Of the 14 starters in this year's Plate, 12 have connections (owner, trainer and/or jockey) who have previously won the Plate. Four horses in the field - Breaking Lucky, Milwaukee Mist, Oakton and Portree -- did not start at two. Eye of the Leopard (2009), Scatter The Gold (2000) and Awesome Again (1997) are the latest Plate winners who did not race as two-year-olds.

The Queen's Plate is the first leg in the Canadian Triple Crown. The second leg is the C$500,000 Prince of Wales S., at 1 3/16 miles on Tuesday, July 28, at Fort Erie, while the C$500,000 Breeders' S., at 1 1/2 miles on the grass, August 16 at Woodbine, comprises the third and final leg. There have been seven Triple Crown winners since the concept was inaugurated in 1959, the first being New Providence in 1959, the latest being Wando in 2003.

Since 1956, the stakes record for the Plate is 2:01 4/5, set by Izvestia in 1990, when he also won by the largest margin, 13 lengths. Strait of Dover, the 2012 winner, owns the fastest Polytrack time since 2007 of 2:01.99. The longest-priced winner in the modern era (since 1956) is T J's Lucky Moon ($166) in 2002 while Maternal Pride is the highest-priced winner of all time, paying $193.35 in 1924. Since 1956, favorites have won 22 of 59 runnings (37.2 percent). However, Wando in 2003, and Eye of the Leopard in 2009, are the only Plate favorites to win in the last 20 editions.

Three other stakes, all of them on the grass, will be part of the Queen's Plate Day undercard -- the C$200,000 Dance Smartly (Can-G2), at 1 1/8 miles at 3:02 p.m., the C$150,000 Singspiel (Can-G3) at 1 1/2 miles at 4:18 p.m. and the C$200,000 Highlander (Can-G2) at six furlongs at 4:53 p.m. First race post time is noon.

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Belmont Oaks comes up tough for Lady Eli

Lady Eli will look to subdue her Belmont Oaks competition just like she did in the Wonder Again (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Despite the presence of undefeated Eclipse Award-finalist Lady Eli (Divine Park), Saturday's $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) came up with a full field of 14 runners to go 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's inner turf.

Lady Eli is tops in the field but faces some strong competition from the likes of American Oaks (G1) heroine Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule) and Irish invader Outstanding (Galileo).

The Chad Brown pupil opened her account with a nose win at Saratoga last August before shifting over to Belmont to take her stakes bow in the Miss Grillo S. (G3). She then shipped cross-country to Santa Anita Park for a decisive 2 3/4-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

That was enough for Lady Eli to be named a finalist for champion two-year-old filly, but she lost out to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway), who wrapped up the Eclipse when taking both the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3) and Starlet S. (G1) to end 2014. Lady Eli, on the other hand, didn't reappear in competition until April, when she captured the Appalachian S. (G3) at Keeneland.

The dark bay miss enters the Belmont Oaks Invitational off a half-length score in the nine-furlong Wonder Again S. at Belmont and will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has been aboard for all of Lady Eli's starts and retains the mount on Saturday.

California-based Spanish Queen will try to take a bite out of the Big Apple while visiting Belmont for the first time (Benoit Photos)
Spanish Queen has started even fewer times than Lady Eli, racking up a 3-1-0 mark from four career races. In the saddle for each of those was jockey Brice Blanc, who has the call back following a three-quarter length win in the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks at Santa Anita.

The Richard Baltas-trained Spanish Queen, who also took the Honeymoon S. (G2) following a close neck second in the Providencia S. (G3) at Santa Anita, will be joined in the gate by fellow American Oaks runners Consumer Credit (More Than Ready), who finished third, and fifth-placer Sharla Rae (Afleet Alex).

Outstanding is one of two international shippers in the Belmont Oaks and makes her U.S. debut for trainer Aidan O'Brien. The bay miss will be getting Lasix added for the first time, and brings a two-for-two 2015 record into the race under Colm O'Donoghue. Olorda (Lord of England), the other shipper, won't be adding Lasix in her stateside bow for trainer Micahel Figge but will get a local jockey in the form of John Velazquez in the saddle.

Some in the race have faced off already -- i.e. Spanish Queen, Consumer Credit, Sharla Rae -- and others are also looking to turn the tables on rivals. Among them are Pine Needles (Giant's Causeway), Itsonlyactingdad (Giant's Causeway) and Miss Chatelaine (Pulpit), the respective third, fourth and sixth behind Lady Eli in the Wonder Again, while Gypsy Judy (Kitalpha), third in the Penn Oaks, will be taking on that race's winner, Strict Compliance (Into Mischief), yet again.

Completing the Belmont Oaks Invitational field are Lady Zuzu (Dynaformer), who just missed by a head in the Regret S. (G3) most recently at Churchill Downs, and last-out allowance scorers Sentiero Italia (Medaglia d'Oro) and Daring Duchess (Arch), who are both making their stakes debuts in the race.

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Bolo brings turf game to Belmont Derby

Bolo has posted convincing wins from his last three turf attempts  (Benoit Photo)
Bolo (Temple City) traveled outside of California two months earlier, weakening to 12th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), an unsurprising outcome given he's never won on a dirt track. His best form is on turf, with the Carla Gaines trainee rebounding to easily capture a May 29 allowance in his first turf performance since December, and the stakes-winning colt is eligible to make a major impact shipping in for Saturday's $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), one of six graded stakes on a strong Independence Day program.

A 2 3/4-length maiden winner on Del Mar's turf in late November, Bolo followed with a smashing 4 1/2-length decision in the grassy Eddie Logan at Santa Anita a month later. That led connections to try the main track and the dark bay sophomore earned a Kentucky berth with a pair of third-place efforts in the San Felipe (G3) and Santa Anita Derby (G1), stalling his development as a turf specialist. He's back on course presently, rolling to a 2 3/4-length decision in the aforementioned 1 1/8-mile turf allowance last time, and Saturday's 1 1/4-mile trip looks like no impediment given his stout bloodlines.

Rafael Bejarano retains the mount in the nine-horse field.

Divisidero has never run a poor race from four career starts (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Divisidero (Kitten's Joy) looms as a formidable opponent, following a fine tally in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs with a neck decision in the May 30 Pennine Ridge at Belmont Park. The late runner has captured three of four career starts for trainer Buff Bradley, the only setback being a troubled third in the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream, and regular rider Rafael Hernandez will be up.

Takeover Target (Harlan's Holiday) just missed in second when making his stakes bow in the Pennine Ridge and is eligible to keep improving for trainer Chad Brown. Irad Ortiz Jr. sticks with the stalker, who has made all three career outings on Belmont's turf. Brown will also send out the Grade 2-winning juvenile Startup Nation (Temple City), who finished a respectable third when making his three-year-old debut in the Pennine Ridge. John Velazquez rides.

Force the Pass (Speightstown) will attempt to carry his winning form forward from the May 30 Penn Mile (G3) for Alan Goldberg and Joel Rosario will be back aboard the chestnut. Granny's Kitten (Kitten's Joy) missed by less than a length in the third after closing boldly in the Penn Mile, sustaining his first setback in his third career outing, and the bay colt will attempt to rebound in his second stakes appearance for Mike Maker. Julien Leparoux has the call.

Closing Bell (Tapit), a last-out maiden winner for Bill Mott, rounds out the U.S. contingent.

Canndal (Medicean), Group 2-placed in France, and Irish stakes winner Postulation (Harlan's Holiday) are international raiders for trainer Mikel Delzangles and Dermot Weld, respectively. And based on BRIS Class ratings, both colts merit serious respect on Saturday. Regular riders Christophe Soumillon (Canndal) and Patrick Smullen (Postulation) have also made the overseas journey.

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Tonalist, Texas Red, Private Zone top Belmont dirt stakes

Tonalist will attempt to pull off the increasingly rare Belmont-Suburban double on Saturday (Joe Labozzetta/Adam Coglianese Photography)
While three-year-old grass horses are the focal point of Belmont Park's Stars and Stripes Day program Saturday, there will be stars aplenty participating in four graded stakes on the main track.

Tonalist (Tapit), last year's Belmont S. (G1) winner, will be a prohibitive favorite to become the first Belmont winner to come back and win the $500,000 Suburban H. (G2) since Lemon Drop Kid scored the double in 1999-2000.

The Christophe Clement trainee, who also captured the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and Peter Pan (G2) at three, kicked off his four-year-old campaign with a scintillating 3 3/4-length victory in the May 2 Westchester (G3) over a mile, but suffered his first defeat on the Belmont main track when second in last month's Metropolitan H. (G1), won in marvelous style by Honor Code (A.P. Indy).

Tonalist, who will race without blinkers for the first time this season, will face five others in the 1 1/4-mile test. Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle the uncoupled pair of Coach Inge (Big Brown), who took the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn (G2) by a neck in his stakes debut, and the classic-placed Mylute (Midnight Lute), who won first out for the trainer in a one-mile allowance May 29. Coach Inge could be the controlling speed in the Suburban.

Effinex (Mineshaft) was a game winner of the Excelsior (G3) at Aqueduct in April, but was pulled up in the June 6 Brooklyn after getting out on both turns of the one-lap event around Belmont's oval. Street Babe (Street Sense), unplaced twice since taking the Mineshaft H. (G3) at Fair Grounds in only his third career start, might show speed from post 1, while Brooklyn fifth-place finisher Neck 'n Neck (Flower Alley) seeks his first win since the Ack Ack H. (G3) at Churchill Downs in October 2012.

The $500,000 Dwyer (G3), a one-mile event for three-year-olds, marks the return to action of Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red (Afleet Alex), who was sidelined with foot problems following a second-place effort in the February 1 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita and missed the classics.

Recovered from his foot issues, Texas Red gets back to work in the Dwyer (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Narrowly edged by American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in Eclipse Award voting as the nation's top two-year-old male following his 6 1/2-length Breeders' Cup romp, Texas Red will be guided by regular Kent Desormeaux, brother of trainer Keith Desormeaux.

Pletcher has a strong pair in the Dwyer as well, with Futurity (G2) and Nashua (G2) winner Blofeld (Quality Road) looking to rebound from his first career defeat in Churchill's $100,000 William Walker on April 25, and Tommy Macho (Macho Uno) exiting a sharp allowance win on the Belmont S. undercard.

Other notables in the field are Speighster (Speightstown), who has won two races by a combined 10 1/2 lengths for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, and the stakes-winning Bridget's Big Luvy (Tiz Wonderful).

Private Zone (Macho Uno), a two-time winner of the Vosburgh (G1) as well as last year's Cigar Mile (G1), shortens up to seven furlongs for the $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3). Third last out in the Met Mile, the Jorge Navarro charge was narrowly beat by Honor Code in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2) over a mile in his season debut before taking the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (G2) by more than four lengths.

Among his primary rivals are 2014 Belmont Sprint Championship winner Clearly Now (Horse Greeley), unplaced in three of four subsequent outings; last year's King's Bishop (G1) hero The Big Beast (Yes It's True), fourth in the Carter H. (G1) when last seen in April; and the stakes-winning Stallwalkin' Dude (City Place), runner-up in the True North (G2) and Donald LeVine Memorial last month.

The Grade 3-winning Texas-bred Promise Me Silver (Silver City), who saw her perfect eight-for-eight record end with a 10th-place finish in last month's Acorn (G1), hopes to get back on the winning track in the $150,000 Victory Ride (G3), a 6 1/2-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies.

Multiple stakes winner Enchanting Lady (Tale of the Cat), runner-up in the $150,000 Jersey Girl June 5, figures to attract support as will Beaumont S. (G2) vixen Miss Ella (Exchange Rate) and Miss Preakness (G3) winner Irish Jasper (First Defence).

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Gimme Da Lute, Kentuckian highlight five-horse Los Alamitos Derby

Kentuckian has posted a pair of runaway victories and is bred to handle Saturday's added ground  (Benoit Photo)
Gimme Da Lute (Midnight Lute) and Kentuckian (Tiznow) each registered triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings pocketing graded stakes tallies at Santa Anita last time out, Gimme Da Lute earning a 101 for the June 7 Affirmed (G3) and Kentuckian a 101 in the May 10 Laz Barrerra (G3), and the promising sophomores will square off in Saturday's $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G2).

The 1 1/8-mile event features only a handful or three-year-olds, but San Felipe (G2) and Affirmed runner-up Prospect Park (Tapit) adds further quality to the five-horse cast.

Gimme Da Lute registered his first stakes tally in the restricted Echo Eddie in early April, rolling to a 5 1/4-length decision for Bob Baffert, and after a couple of placings versus open rivals in the Pat Day Mile (G3) and Chick Lang, the California-bred colt put it all together last time, earning his first graded tally by a half-length margin. Martin Garcia will be back aboard.

Kentuckian won his career debut by 11 lengths at Golden Gate Fields in early March and after finishing third as the odds-on favorite in the San Pedro at Santa Anita a month later, the $610,000 yearling purchase strode to an impressive 6 1/4-length tally in the seven-furlong Laz Barrerra. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gray colt will make his two-turn debut and return from a 55-day layoff with Mike Smith.

After a fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Prospect Park was being readied for a Kentucky Derby (G1) bid before an illness derailed those plans. He was redirected to the June 7 Affirmed, finishing second as the 3-5 choice, and the dark bay colt is eligible to show more Saturday for Cliff Sise Jr. Tyler Baze picks up the mount.

Runner-up in the Pat Day Mile two back, Pain and Misery (Bob and John) returns to graded company after a wire-to-wire victory in the June 6 Charles Taylor Derby at Albuquerque. Flavien Prat rides the likely front-runner. Rounding out the field is Follow Me Crev (Quality Road), who was claimed for $50,000 from a third-place effort last time and will make his stakes debut for new trainer Vladimir Cerin.

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Coffee Clique, Testa Rossi headline Penny Memorial

Grade 1 winner Coffee Clique is the most accomplished entrant in the Dr. James Penny Memorial (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Graded stakes winners Coffee Clique (Medaglia d'Oro) and Testa Rossi (Dr Fong) each seek to halt losing streaks in Saturday's $200,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial H. (G3) at Parx Racing, a 1 1/16-mile grass event for fillies and mares.

Coffee Clique, who went three-for-three in an abbreviated 2014 campaign with wins in the Just a Game (G1) and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), has dropped her first three outings this year. Third in the March 28 Honey Fox (G2) following a layoff of more than nine months, she was subsequently second and sixth, respectively, when defending her Distaff Turf Mile and Just a Game titles.

Testa Rossi, who has not crossed the wire first since taking the 2014 Florida Oaks (G3), was elevated to first in the January 31 Endeavour (G3), also at Tampa Bay Downs, but was fourth in the Santa Ana (G2) and fifth in the Beaugay (G3) in her two most recent starts for trainer Chad Brown.

Another mare with a graded win to her credit is the five-year-old Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft), who took the 2013 Virginia Oaks (G3). Fourth in the Penny Memorial last year, she took the $100,000 Dahlia at Pimlico in mid-April and was most recent fifth in the $82,000 Miss Liberty at Monmouth Park.

Others likely to attract support are the multiple Grade 3-placed Photo Call (Galileo), who was cross-entered to the $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont on Friday; Baffle Me (First Samurai), who has won multiple stakes at Gulfstream and Belmont in recent seasons; and Distorted Beauty (Invasor), who's placed in the Pebbles and Intercontinental at Belmont.

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In brief

For many who are still celebrating American Pharoah's (Pioneerof the Nile) Triple Crown sweep, jockey Victor Espinoza will be the biggest attraction in the Smile Sprint S. (G2) and other races during Gulfstream Park's Summit of Speed program on Sunday. Espinoza, who has had a whirlwind public appearance schedule since guiding American Pharoah to a commanding and historic victory in the Belmont S. (G1) on June 6, has six mounts on the day at Gulfstream and is scheduled to sign commemorative posters prior to Sunday's card...

Grade 3 winner Legendary (Exceed and Excel), who was originally aimed toward the $100,000 Arlington H. (G3) for trainer Niall Seville, will now skip that July 11 race, according to his conditioner. Exiting a nice third in the $1 million Manhattan S. (G1) at Belmont Park on June 6, the six-year-old gelding will now target the $1 million Arlington Million (G1) on August 15. According to Seville, Legendary may or may not train up to the Million...

The Jockey Club Tour on FOX Sports 1 will make a return visit to Monmouth Park on Sunday on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports GO (Digital) with a unique telecast highlighted by live coverage of the $500,000 United Nations S. (G1) and a 30-minute segment devoted exclusively to Thoroughbred racing's 12th Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile). The telecast, which will air 4:30-6 p.m. (EDT), will open with a segment entitled, "American Pharoah: Finally the One." It will include a live remote interview with trainer Bob Baffert and a feature on American Pharoah's jockey, Victor Espinoza. That section of the show will also include a feature on the 2015 Triple Crown. As a "Win & You're In" race, the winner of the United Nations will be guaranteed an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland as part of the October 30-31 Breeders' Cup World Championships. The United Nations will be contested at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, and the field is expected to include defending champion Main Sequence (Aldebaran). In addition to coverage of the United Nations, the Salvator Mile (G3) will be shown live from Monmouth Park. The on-air duties will be handled by Greg Wolf, Richard Migliore, Andy Serling and Alyssa Ali. The broadcast will also highlight The Square Peg Foundation, a farm in Northern California that retrains racehorses to help challenged kids. Following the United Nations, The Jockey Club Tour on FOX Sports 1 will continue on September 7 with live coverage of the Hopeful S. (G1) at Saratoga...

Friday's $150,000 Molly Pitcher (G3) at Monmouth Park, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, features a rematch between Stiffed (Stephen Got Even) and Got Lucky (A.P. Indy), the one-two finishers in the $97,000 Monmouth Beach on May 24. On that day, Stiffed rallied from 10 lengths back to post a 34-1 upset by a half-length over Got Lucky, a multiple Grade 2-placed four-year-old who was among the betting favorites. Also among the field of seven is Shayjolie (Indian Charlie), a stakes winner at Aqueduct in March who has gone unplaced in two starts since finishing a narrowly-beaten third in the Top Flight H. (G3)...

Trainer Christophe Clement will send out a pair of top contenders, Zindaya (More Than Ready) and Marbre Rose (Smart Strike), in Friday's $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont Park. The four-year-old fillies finished one-two in the June 4 Intercontinental, with Zindaya improving her mark to three-for-three on Belmont's turf with the 2 1/4-length decision over her favored stablemate. Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir), last seen winning the My Charmer (G3) at Gulfstream Park West in late November, will make her first appearance for trainer Chad Brown in the one-mile turf affair and Grade 2 heroine Emotional Kitten (Kitten's Joy), most recently second in the Gallorette H. (G3), is also part of the 10-horse field...

Laurel will kick off its first live July racing program in five years Friday with a special twilight card and a weekend of activities for families and bettors. Parking and admission will be free at Laurel Park. The track will continue offering its 10-cent Rainbow 6, a Pick 5 with an industry-low 12 percent takeout, and the new Super Hi 5 wager with a 15-percent takeout. Post time on Friday is 3:40 p.m. (EDT) while post time on Saturday and Sunday will be 1:30 p.m. Friday's eight race twilight program, including four scheduled turf races run over Laurel's 142-foot wide turf course, will include a Happy Hour between 3-7 p.m. in Tycoons and TIPS featuring half-price appetizers, $4 domestic and 16-ounce domestic drafts. There will also be live music, a $20 buffet, and half-price drinks for ladies. There will be $4 concession specials throughout the weekend at the Track Grill, Pizza Stand, Long Shots and Stone Bar. On Saturday, Tycoon and TIPS restaurant will feature half-price appetizers and drink specials. Laurel will welcome families during its Sunday Family Fun program with a first race post time of 1:30 p.m. Weekend activities could include pony rides, petting zoos, carnival rides, games, a rock wall and moon bounce. There will also be a Sunday brunch in the Terrace Dining Room from noon to 4 p.m. with a cost of $22 for adults, $11 for children aged three to 11. Laurel will also offer $10 bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. Reservations, recommended for Sunday brunch, can be made at 301-725-0700...

Charity partners who worked with Churchill Downs during this spring's 141st annual celebrations of the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) were presented with donation checks for their Derby and Oaks Week activities that totaled $222,705. Kentucky Oaks women's health partners Bright Pink and Horses and Hope and two participants in the Derby and Oaks Week "Taste of Derby" celebration -- Louisville food bank Dare to Care and Sullivan University's Center for Hospitality Studies Culinary Arts Program -- received their donation checks during ceremonies in the G.H. MUMM Winner's Circle during the June 27 "Downs After Dark" night racing program that concluded the track's 38-day spring meet. A donation of $117,705 was presented to Chicago-based Bright Pink, which is now in its second year as the Kentucky Oaks' primary health care partner. Bright Pink is the only national non-profit organization focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women, along with support for high-risk individuals. A donation of $30,000 was presented to Horses and Hope, the cancer outreach initiative in Kentucky's horse industry launched by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear. The donation represents $1 from each on-track sale of the "Oaks Lily," the signature drink of the Kentucky Oaks, and supports Horses and Hope's programs and outreach at racetracks and farms in Kentucky's horse industry. Two donations grew from the fifth annual "Taste of Derby" celebration on Thursday, April 30. Louisville-based food bank Dare to Care received a donation of $50,000 as a partner charity in "Taste of Derby" since 2010. During that period Dare to Care's proceeds from the partnership will generate more than 200,000 meals in Louisville Metro and the region. Also receiving a "Taste of Derby" donation was the Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies Culinary Arts Program, which was presented a check for $25,000. The award for the program on Louisville's Sullivan campus recognized "Taste of Derby" support by the Culinary Arts Program, which opens its kitchens to visiting chefs who participate in the annual Derby and Oaks Week event, and the program's students gain significant experience while assisting in the event...

Terms have been agreed between Tattersalls Ltd. and Brightwells Ltd. for the purchase by Tattersalls of the bloodstock sales conducted by Brightwells, which has been holding bloodstock sales at Cheltenham Racecourse since 2009 and Ascot Racecourse since 1990. In 2014 Brightwells held six sales at Cheltenham for a total sale ring turnover of almost £12.3 million (2013: £11.6 million) and nine sales at Ascot for a total sale ring turnover of more than £2.2 million (2013: £1.5 million). Brightwells bloodstock sales have focused on the National Hunt sector of the bloodstock market, a sector in which Tattersalls in the United Kingdom has no presence, and the proposed acquisition will enable Tattersalls to serve a wider range of breeders, racehorse owners and trainers, as well as adding two further auction sites to the Tattersalls headquarters in Newmarket. It is expected that members of the bloodstock team at Brightwells will be transferring to Tattersalls on completion of the transaction.



JULY 3, 2015

by Dick Powell

The second annual Stars and Stripes Festival is this Saturday at Belmont Park and the fireworks begin in race six on the Fourth of July racecard. Luckily, the heavy rain that hit the New York metropolitan area is over and the races should be conducted under Fast and Firm conditions.

Race six is the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track for three-year-old fillies. Next comes the $500,000 Dwyer Stakes (G2) for three-year-olds going a mile on the main track.

The marquee event of the day, the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1) for three-year-olds at a mile and a quarter, is race eight. Despite the large purse and efforts to entice international shippers, this year's Derby only drew nine entrants with just two coming in from overseas.

CANNDAL (Medicean) is from the powerful stable of the Aga Khan and won his first race the second time out this year, traveling Saturday's distance on good turf at Longchamp in Paris. He came back with a good third going 11 furlongs on soft turf in a Group 2, setting the pace from the start and leading to deep stretch. The second-place horse that day came back to run seventh and 10th in his next two starts. Canndal exits a troubled second versus listed rivals, elevated one spot by the stewards after being sawed off in the stretch, and will not use the diuretic Lasix.

POSTULATION (Harlan's Holiday) ships in for Juddmonte Farms with decent form in Ireland. He won his last race going this distance at The Curragh and his best race might have been his career debut when beaten only four lengths by Gleneagles (Galileo), the highest rated miler in Europe.

Trainer Dermot Weld is a legend in Ireland but familiar to race fans all over the world. In 1990, he won the Belmont Stakes (G1) with Go and Go (Be My Guest). He's won the Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1), Australia's most important race, twice, sending out Vintage Crop (Rousillon) in 1993 and Media Puzzle (Theatrical) in 2002. When Weld ships, as Woody Stephens used to say, he's here for a reason, not the season.

In the $1 million Belmont Oaks (G1), 14 three-year-old fillies are entered for the 1 1/4-mile race on the inner turf course but only two international shippers made the trip. OLORDA (Lord of England) is from the powerful international stable of Martin Schwartz, who has won major stakes in America with Euro shippers Stacelita (Monsun), heroine of the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) and Flower Bowl (G1); Alterite (Literato), who won the Garden City Stakes (G1); Zagora (Green Tune), winner of the Diana Stakes (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1); and Samitar (Rock of Gibraltar), who won the Garden City.

All were trained over here by Chad Brown and Olorda has similar credentials, with the above fillies all improving once in America. She won a Group 3 two starts back going nine furlongs on soft turf at Longchamp, her first start out of Germany, and came back to finish third in a Group 1 last time, going Saturday's distance on good turf. The winner came back to run 11th in the Prix Diane (Fr-G1) next out but had an excuse after breaking impossibly from post 17.

The other international runner in the Oaks is OUTSTANDING (Galileo), who appears to be rounding into form for Aidan O'Brien. After running poorly in two starts last year, she's captured both attempts in 2015. Even though she missed the Classics in Europe this year, Outstanding has the look of a filly that will continue to improve.

She broke her maiden going a mile on yielding turf in a 20-horse field at Naas in Ireland, returning off a six-month layoff in her seasonal bow, and Outstanding came back at Saturday's distance to win by almost three lengths last time, making all the running on a good turf course. She adds Lasix and should get ground that she favors.

O'Brien not only dominates European racing but is equally dangerous when he ships to North America. He almost won the Belmont Derby last year with Adelaide (Galileo), who went on to win the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park; Cape Blanco (Galileo), winner of the Joe Hirsch Invitational Stakes (G1), the Man o' War Stakes (G1) and Arlington Million (G1); George Vancouver (Henrythenavigator), who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1); and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winners St. Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu) and Magician (Galileo).

Outstanding is a full-sister to Magician and looks ready to take another move up the class ladder. She draws outside and if the race is run slowly, she will be losing ground every step of the way.

One interesting point in the Belmont Oaks is that all but one filly is nominated for the Breeders' Cup. The one that is not, Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule), is also the only starter to win going 10 furlongs at the Grade 1 level, capturing the American Oaks (G1) last out. The $535,000 winner's purse could go a long way to get her supplemented.

Finally, the one to beat in the Oaks is Lady Eli (Divine Park) who is undefeated in five starts. Last year, I was not that strong on her in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (G1) after a pair of rather slow wins beforehand. She looked great with her explosive kick in the stretch at Santa Anita and has come back this year with two easy wins, but neither was very fast.

In the Oaks, against 13 other rivals, Lady Eli draws inside with Irad Ortiz Jr. and the question facing her surrounds her finishing kick; will she have the same explosion going 10 furlongs as she's displayed at middle distances? At a short price I am betting she doesn't.

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather


For Friday

Arlington Park   (4th) Redlace and Pearls, 6-1
    (8th) Sun Red, 10-1
Belmont Park   (3rd) Cosmic Coincidence, 3-1
    (4th) The Ghost Bride, 8-1
Belterra Park   (3rd) Pure Delight, 4-1
    (6th) Winning Ribbon, 6-1
Canterbury Park   (6th) Oriental Secret, 3-1
    (10th) Bourbon County, 7-2
Ellis Park   (2nd) Win Castle, 6-1
    (4th) Tough Customer, 7-2
Emerald Downs   (5th) Forbidden Kee, 3-1
    (8th) Spot of Salt, 4-1
Evangeline Downs   (2nd) Coast of La, 8-1
    (5th) Risky Forest, 5-1
Finger Lakes   (1st) B Team, 5-1
    (5th) Bond Baroness, 9-2
Gulfstream Park   (2nd) Guderian, 4-1
    (5th) Stars Collide, 7-2
Indiana Grand   (1st) Cornbread Warrior, 5-1
    (4th) Wind Rider, 9-2
Laurel Park   (2nd) My Unbridled Storm, 10-1
    (5th) Mount Coronet, 4-1
Lone Star Park   (6th) Perplexity, 6-1
    (9th) Thumamah, 5-1
Los Alamitos   (1st) Stunning Taste, 7-2
    (3rd) Swiss Heart, 4-1
Louisiana Downs   (1st) Fleetcharlie, 3-1
    (7th) Pachuco's Ruler, 3-1
Monmouth Park   (6th) Gypsy Baron, 3-1
    (9th) Very Playful, 4-1
Oak Tree @ Pleasanton   (5th) El Tio Fernando, 7-2
    (9th) Wise, 7-2
Penn National   (2nd) Hurler, 8-1
    (5th) Badstormrising, 6-1
Prairie Meadows   (1st) Tale Be Told, 5-1
    (4th) My Bella Notte, 5-1
Thistledown   (5th) Sainted Dancer, 6-1
    (8th) Unlimited Spirit, 6-1
Woodbine   (5th) Wild Catomine, 3-1
    (9th) Dancinwithdunkirk, 3-1

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.


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