ELMONT, N.Y. — Following Hawksmoor’s head victory over Dacita in the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes at Belmont Park on May 13, trainer Arnaud Delacour indicated he would likely run the Irish-bred 4-year-old filly back in the Grade 1 Just a Game here on June 10.
But after time to think about it and with a forecast that likely will result in a firm turf course at Belmont this weekend, Delacour has opted to run Hawksmoor in Friday’s Grade 2, $500,000 New York Stakes, creating a rematch with Dacita, last year’s New York winner. The Just a Game is a mile while the New York is 1 1/4 miles.
“On firm turf, the mile and a quarter makes a lot more sense because she ran a mile and a quarter in Europe on good to firm and she was third in a Group 1,” Delacour said. “She can definitely handle it. I’m not sure she has the speed or turn of foot to go a flat mile at Belmont on firm turf.”
Conversely, trainer Chad Brown felt the yielding turf compromised Dacita in the Beaugay. He is hoping for firm ground in the New York, a race Dacita won last year by running past stablemate Sea Calisi.
Hawksmoor drew post 5, Sea Calisi post 6, and Dacita post 8 in the New York, which will go as race 9 on an 11-race card that will get underway at 12:50 p.m. Eastern and include four other stakes. The New York will be shown live in a one-hour broadcast on NBC Sports Net (5-6 p.m.) that will also include the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational.
The New York is part of a two-day daily double wager that links to the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Saturday’s card. That pool will be guaranteed at $100,000.
Quidura, Suffused, Apple Betty, Kitten’s Roar, Summersault, and Sassy Little Lila also entered the New York.
Time and Motion was not entered in the New York, due to a low white blood cell count and potential viral infection, according to her trainer, Jimmy Toner.
Mullins sends two for Belmont Gold Cup
Willie Mullins, one of Europe’s most renowned trainers of steeplechase runners, makes a rare foray to the U.S. for a flat race when he sends out Clondaw Warrior and Wicklow Brave in Friday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational scheduled for two miles on turf.
Mullins, a multiple champion amateur rider and trainer of several European steeplechase champions, has run once in the U.S. on the flat with Clondaw Warrior, who finished second in the American St. Leger at Arlington last August.
Clondaw Warrior, now 10, is 8 for 24 on the flat. He drew post 5. Mullins also shipped Wicklow Brave, winner of the Group 1 Irish St. Leger at the Curragh last September. He finished 22nd of 24 in the Melbourne Cup last November.
The Belmont Gold Cup field, from the rail out, is: Hunter O’ Riley, Renown, Now We Can, Wall of Fire, Clondaw Warrior, Farz, Wayward Kitten, Roman Approval, Bullards Alley, Red Cardinal, Taghleeb, Wicklow Brave, and St. Michel.
The Belmont Gold Cup is part of a two-day wager that links to the Belmont Stakes. There is a guaranteed pool of $300,000 for that wager.
Whitmore in, A. P. Indian out of True North
A rematch of Maryland Sprint Stakes one-two finishers Whitmore and A .P. Indian will not occur in Friday’s Grade 2, $250,000 True North at Belmont as Whitmore was entered but A. P. Indian was not in the six-furlong stakes.
Trainer Ron Moquett said he opted to run Whitmore back in the True North three weeks after the Maryland victory in part because he wants to keep the horse at six furlongs this year, with the year-end goal being the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“We’re happy to go the distance we’re successful at,” Moquett said.
Whitmore drew post 8 in a nine-horse field. Inside of him, from the rail, out, are Chief Lion, Holy Boss, Noholdingback Bear, Stallwalkin’ Dude, Fellowship, Green Gratto, and Roy H. El Deal.
Meanwhile, trainer Arnaud Delacour said he would likely wait for the Belmont Sprint Championship, a race A. P. Indian won last year.
Quezon tries open in Bed o’ Roses
Quezon, a multiple stakes winner in New York-bred company, will try again to win her first graded stakes in Friday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Bed o’ Roses Invitational, the last of 11 races on the card.
Quezon won New York-bred stakes at 2, 3, and 4 and did run second to Paulassilverlining in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom last October at Belmont. She ended her 4-year-old campaign with a 5 1/4-length victory in the Iroquois for New York-breds.
“This year the goal and the reason we tried to bring her back is to try and win a graded race,” said Robert Ribaudo, who trains Quezon for Marc Keller.
In her first start this year, Quezon finished third, five lengths behind By the Moon, who figures to be favored in the Bed o’ Roses coming off her victory in the Vagrancy Handicap last out.
The Bed o’ Roses draw, from the rail out, is: Wheatfield, High Ridge Road, Indulgent, Quezon, Lightstream, Flora Dora, Mia Torri, Tale for Ruby, By the Moon, and Discreet Senorita.
Pletcher enters four in Tremont
Count trainer Todd Pletcher among happy to see the New York Racing Association’s attempt at running more races for 2-year-olds early in the year which included reinstituting the Tremont Stakes, which was done in 2014.
Pletcher has won six juvenile races between Aqueduct and Belmont — as well as several at other tracks — so far this spring and plans to send out four 2-year-old colts in Friday’s $150,000 Tremont Stakes. Pletcher entered Admiral Jimmy, Analyze Your Lucky, Analyze the Odds, and Salmanzar – all of whom won their debuts – at four different locations.
“I think the effort they’ve made to get the 2-year-old program started a little earlier has paid off based on what I’ve seen in the entries so far,” Pletcher said. “One of the problems we had for a little while was once you broke your maiden you didn’t have anywhere to go so having the Tremont on the calendar and a couple of New York bred stakes at the end of the meet gives you some options.”
The field for the Tremont, which goes as race 5, in post order is: He Hate Me, Admiral Jimmy, Presence of Mind, Wonder How, Direct Dial, Analyze Your Luck, Salmanzar, and Analyze the Odds.