Before we start on our preview, let’s take a quick look back at last Sunday’s Woodbine feature, the Canadian International. While it was no surprise to see another European winner of this grade 1 event, not many expected that winner to be Erupt. It had been quite a while since Erupt had run to his early season three year old form, which included grade 1 success at Longchamp. Now that he has shown his old ability, connections are looking for a Breeders’ Cup opportunity.
Talking of the Breeders’ Cup, in the run up to this prestigious meeting graded action is thin on the ground. Belmont has put on a valuable day of state-bred racing, the highlight of which is the Empire Classic Handicap over a mile and an eighth and worth $300,000.
Governor Malibu is the 2/1 Morning Line favourite. He has generally struggled in open class races but his two victories this year have been in state-bred races. He ran as a maiden on this card last year in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes and finished a creditable third in that race. He warmed up for this race with an easy 7 ½ length win in an allowance race.
Some may look with interest at Wake Up In Malibu given his Beyer of 102 last time out. However, he may be flattered by that run as it is way above previous performances and his ability to stay 9 furlongs has to be taken on trust particularly over Belmont’s punishing run in.
Royal posse looks to have a great chance and a bit of value at the Morning line odds of 3/1. He is wonderfully consistent and has a fine record over this course and distance.
On to Keeneland, which is hosting the only grade 2 race of the weekend in the raven Run Stakes, a 7 furlong event for three year old fillies worth $250,000. 12 runners face the starter in this competitive race where they go 3/1 the field. Morning Line favouritism is awarded to the Julien Leparoux ridden Lightstream who is berthed in stall 12. This may be no bad thing as there is a lot of pace on the inside and there is no finer jockey than Leparoux at getting his mount into a good stalking position.
Lightstream has mixed it with the best this year and has had a lay off since place finishes in grade one events (Mother Goose and Test). She runs well after a break and this race has been the plan for some time. She does seem to be the obvious choice in the race if she gets a decent trip.
If she does not run to form then Lucy N Ethel may well be there to pick up the pieces. She has graded stakes form to her name and recorded a Beyer of 95 last time out.