Stars & Stripes Day to feature strong international presence
By Sean Morris
A robust 28 invitations have been extended to a sensational group of colts and fillies for the inaugural runnings of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby and Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks, to be run on Stars & Stripes Day, July 5 at Belmont Park.
The Aga Khan, Juddmonte Farm, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, Qatar Racing Limited, Phipps Stable and Ken and Sarah Ramsey are among the elite owners
whose horses have been invited to the 1 ¼-mile turf races.
The two stakes will feature a strong European contingent, headlined by Toast of New York, Gailo Chop, and Shifting Power in the Belmont Derby.
Toast of New York, trained by Jamie Osborne for Mike Buckley, began his career in inauspicious fashion in Great Britain, losing his debut at Leicester by 6 ¼ lengths, then missing again by a neck two and a half weeks later at Kempton Park. Once the colt got his first taste of the synthetic surface at Wolverhampton, however, his career began to take shape. On September 13, the son of Thewayyouare broke his maiden by 12 lengths, and then followed up his breakthrough performance with a 16-length romp on November 1 at Wolverhampton. The colt's connections wasted no time testing him against the best horses in the world; his next start came in the Group 2 UAE Derby. Toast of New York rewarded their faith, winning by an easy 2 ½ lengths.
Gailo Chop was similarly under the radar in the early portion of his career, but that changed in a hurry when the chestnut gelding won his stakes debut in France by 2 ½ lengths at 14-1. Since then, the son of Deportivo has rattled off three stakes victories in a row, including wins in the Group 3 Prix la Force and Group 3 Prix Noailles, both at Longchamp.
Trained by Richard Hannon for Ms. Elaine Chivers & Potensis Ltd., Shifting Power will enter the Belmont Derby winless in his past two starts, but those starts came in a pair of Group 1 races: the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, in which he was fourth, and the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas, in which he finished second. The chestnut colt began his career with three consecutive victories, including a win in the CSP European Free Handicap on April 16 at Newmarket.
Other Europeans that have been invited to the are God Willing and Pornichet, while the American-based invitees include Bobby's Kitten, Can'thelpbelieving, Dance With Fate, Flamboyant, Gala Award, Global View, Medal Count, Mr. Speaker and Tourist.
The Belmont Oaks will also have an exceptional blend of international and American runners. Invitees Eastern Belle, Flying Jib, Goldy Espony, Hug and a Kiss, Lahinch Classics, Veda, Wonderfully and Xcellence will all be representing Europe, while Diversy Harbor, Minorette, My Conquestadory, Room Service, Rosalind and Sea Queen all call America home.
"We are thrilled to have such a talented cast of runners, both from abroad and from the U.S., lined up for the inaugural running of the Belmont Derby and the Belmont Oaks," said Martin Panza, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations at the New York Racing Association (NYRA), Inc. "With the inception of Stars & Stripes Day, we have made huge strides towards accomplishing our goal of creating an international day of racing at Belmont Park. NYRA looks forward to the event growing even further in the years to come."
In addition to the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks, Stars & Stripes Day will include three other graded stakes: the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban, the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer.