Wow, once again we are looking forward to another Saturday packed full of grade 1 races and, once again, the sheer volume of grade 1 races means we will have to cherry-pick the focus of our preview.
We will start with the stellar Belmont card worth north of £3.6m and including four grade 1 events. Race 6 on the card is the Flower Bowl Stakes, for 3 years old and up fillies and mares over a mile and a quarter of the inner turf track.
Interestingly, Andre Fabre sends one over from France in the form of Ame Bleue. She’s a nice filly, who has placed form at this level when she was second to Speedy Boarding in the Prix Romanet but it would be a surprise if she was good enough here.
It would appear that trainer Chad Brown holds the key to the race as he runs the first two in the Morning Line market in Lady Eli and Sea Calisi. It’s great to see Lady Eli thriving again as she has had problems with laminitis and tendonitis. Her comeback run in the Ballston Spa was extremely encouraging, finishing a fine second, her performance was particularly noteworthy given the race was not run to suit.
With normal improvement on the cards, it is hard to look beyond Lady Eli, particularly when one factors in that she has an unblemished three from three record at Belmont Park. There is a possible lack of pace on in the race but this could well be more of a hindrance to the opposition.
Amongst a host of valuable races on the card, the Belmont feature is the $1m Jockey Club Gold Cup, a grade 1 race for three year olds and above over a mile and a quarter of the main track. The winner also gets a free entry to the Breeders Cup Classic.
With the late scratching of War Story means that only five horses face the starter for this prestigious race. Trainer Jimmy Jerkins has a very good record in these big ticket races at New York and he has a live contender in this race with the Morning Line favourite, Effinex.
The problem with Effinex is that he is somewhat mercurial. He can be brilliant but he can also boil over and run a stinker. This is certainly off-putting when contemplating backing at a short price.
Hoppertunity may represent a bit of value in a race, which looks short of early pace. He is closely matched with the fancied horses and was scratched from the Awesome Again to avoid the likes of California Chrome.
On to Keeneland for the remainder of our review. The grade 1 First Lady Stakes should go the way of Tepin, who can extend her unbeaten run to nine. Celestine is interesting. She has plenty of speed and earned a Beyer of 107 when winning the Just A Game Stakes in June. If fully wound up after her 4 month lay-off, it will be interesting to see if she can get Tepin off the bridle.
The feature race on Keeneland’s card, in fact its whole meeting, is the grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile for three year olds and above and worth a cool $1m. Not surprisingly, such a prestigious race will provide the winner with a free entry to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
This looks a really competitive race with at least seven of the eleven starters having a genuine chance. Mondialiste, trained in England by the excellent David O’Meara loves his visits to North America and won on his last trip when taking the Arlington Million over 10 furlongs but he has plenty of form over today’s trip.
This race looks one that can be filed under the too close to call category and I will be a watcher rather than a player. If you are really keen to have a wager on this race, Grand Arch might fit the bill. He won this race last year, looks to be coming back to form with a third in the Fourstardave Stakes and at a Morning Line 10/1 looks to represent a bit of value.