by NYRA Press Office
Woodslane Farm's Dyna Passer will make the step up in class when she competes in the eight-horse field of sophomore fillies in Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational.
The 1 3/8-mile test on the inner turf is the concluding leg of NYRA's newly implemented Turf Tiara, part of the Turf Triple Series, and is carded as Race 9 on the 11-race card that also includes the $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational for males to cap the Turf Trinity and the $300,000 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational at 1 ½ miles on the main track.
NBC will present live coverage and analysis of the Jockey Club Oaks and Jockey Club Derby as part of a nationwide broadcast from 4:30 - 6 p.m. Eastern
Dyna Passer ran fifth in the opener of the Turf Tiara in the 1 ¼-mile Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 6, a race won by Concrete Rose, who won both that race and the Saratoga Oaks on August 2 before an injury curtailed her bid to sweep the series.
Trainer Tom Albertrani skipped the Saratoga Oaks and instead ran Dyna Passer in an optional claimer at the Jockey Club Oaks distance on July 28 at Saratoga, where she ran third. The daughter of 1999 Belmont Stakes-winner Lemon Drop Kid will now return to Belmont, where she broke her maiden at fifth asking on May 23 at 1 3/8 miles over softer turf.
"She's doing well heading into the race and is coming off a little easier spot last time. This will be more challenging, but I think she's up to it," Albertrani said. "The purpose of skipping the one in Saratoga and coming here, hopefully we have a fresher horse. I'm pretty confident. She ran pretty well against Concrete Rose in the first leg of the Tiara, so hopefully we get a good, solid trip, and a good run from her."
A talented Jockey Club Oaks field is bolstered by three European sophomore fillies who shipped in, led by Group 1-winner Wonderment and also includes Love So Deep, who enters the race off of a close second in the Group 2 Darley Prix de Pomone at Deauville, and Edisa, coming off two runner-up efforts against group stakes company overseas.
"With the fillies coming from Europe, they look pretty competitive," Albertrani said. "I'm not sure of what they've been running up against, but I have a lot of confidence in my filly with just the fact she ran well going up against Concrete Rose. She was beaten five lengths that day [5 ¾] and I felt she could have been even closer. That day, we were taken further back than we wanted to be and there was no pace. I'm just hoping for a little bit of a better run this weekend."
Dyna Passer drew post 7 and is listed as 12-1 on the morning line. Belmont spring meet leading rider Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount.
"I don't think it'll make that much of a difference [post position]. There doesn't seem to be that much pace in here," Albertrani said. "I think we're going to end up being forwardly placed this time around and hopefully we get around there."
Sadler's Joy, a half-brother to Dyna Passer also owned by Woodslane Farm, returned to the work tab on Friday morning, breezing four furlongs in 49.90 seconds on Belmont's Big Sandy. It was the first work for the 6-year-old son of Kitten's Joy since running second by a neck to Annals of Time in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on Travers Day August 24 at Saratoga.
Albertrani said the three-time graded stakes winner is on target for the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Saturday, October 5 going 1 ½ miles at Belmont.
"He worked this morning and went an easy half in 49 and 4, and looked really well on the track, so we're going to continue to look to the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in the beginning of October," Albertrani said. "He's still on top of his game."
Sadler's Joy ended his 5-year-old year with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf in November at Churchill Downs. Following an eight-month break, he returned to run sixth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at the Spa, just 1 1/4-lengths back to winner Channel Cat, earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.
In the nine-horse Sword Dancer Sadler's Joy earned a 102 Beyer, coming from off the pace for a strong stretch-drive surge. It was his best effort in that race since winning the 2017 edition of the Sword Dancer.
"Off the layoff, he was a little unlucky in the Bowling Green, he couldn't get through. He came back and ran a really good race in the Sword Dancer," Albertrani said. "So, as long as he can keep running those kind of races, hopefully he'll get there one of these races before we get to the Breeders' Cup."
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Well-traveled Tone Broke seeks Turf Triple triumph
L and N Racing's Tone Broke will add a seventh racetrack to his docket when he breaks from the gate in Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational, the third and final leg of the Turf Trinity.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the dark bay son of Broken Vow, a $40,000 purchase at the 2017 Keeneland Yearling Sale, has banked $528,600 through 11 career starts thanks to victories in two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown.
"We were at the Keeneland sale and saw him back at [consignor] Keith Lancaster's barn and liked the way he looked. He went for what we wanted to spend on him and he fit," said Michael Levinson, racing manager and co-owner of L and N Racing.
Following a fifth on debut at Indiana Grand, Tone Broke traveled to Remington Park where he won two of four starts culminating in a rallying fourth in the Springboard Mile.
"He was a long, leggy horse and it just took some time for him to grow into his body," said Levinson. "He started to put everything together at Remington Park."
Levinson said the ownership group were hopeful the well-related colt, a half-brother to multiple stakes-winner Stallion Heiress, could make the Kentucky Derby and pointed their charge towards the UAE Derby. However, following a pair of off-the-board starts at Meydan, Tone Broke was brought home and freshened for a run at the Canadian Triple Crown instead.
"We were aiming for UAE Derby to try and get into the Kentucky Derby, but he hit a growth spurt and it didn't work out like we wanted it to," said Levinson. "But, it did work out in the sense that we had a fresh horse coming back for the second part of the year. The Queen's Plate was always our realistic goal."
Tone Broke, bred in Ontario by Sean Fitzhenry, resurfaced in May at Pimlico when second in the Sir Barton, setting up a solid third in the $1 million Queen's Plate, first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown at 1 1/4-miles on Tapeta.
Sent to post at odds of 5-1 in the Prince of Wales, second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown at 1 3/16-miles on the Fort Erie dirt, Tone Broke stalked from third position en route to a two-length score over Avie's Flatter.
He completed his Triple Crown run with an impressive effort in the Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile test over a yielding E.P. Taylor Turf Course, that saw the dark bay overcome traffic trouble to secure a 1 1/2-length win in his grass debut.
Levinson said that effort proved Tone Broke can handle the 12-furlong Jockey Club Derby distance.
"He obviously wants to go the distance," said Levinson. "He got in a lot of traffic trouble on the turn at Woodbine and was able to shift out four or five paths and run everybody down. I thought it was very impressive. I don't know how many horses would have been able to win that race from that position, especially after losing momentum and having to re-rally like that."
Levinson said the Jockey Club Derby, a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event offering a berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf, is a perfect class test for his improving horse.
"We don't want to cut him back right now and the race on Saturday is such an opportunity with a 'Win and You're In' to the Breeders' Cup and a $1 million purse. We just couldn't pass up this opportunity," said Levinson. "He has to step up in class here but we'll know tomorrow what we've got. We know he can run on the dirt, but if he can run on the turf course, it opens up a lot of options."
And should rain on Friday afternoon soften up Belmont's Widener turf course for Saturday, it won't bother Tone Broke's connections.
"We definitely wouldn't be disappointed if the turf course softened up a little bit," said Levinson.
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Desert Ride faces biggest test yet in Jockey Club Oaks
In two of her last three starts, Desert Ride has proven capable of defeating her Ontario-bred counterpart against stakes company, but on Saturday the sophomore daughter of Candy Ride will take things up a notch when she faces open company in the $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks at Belmont Park.
Owned by Sam-Son Farm, Desert Ride proved versatile over different surfaces when she won the Woodbine Oaks and Wonder Where, respectively contested over Woodbine's all-weather surface and turf course. In between said victories, she faced males in the Queen's Plate at Woodbine and was a distant fifth. A first out winner over the turf at Fair Grounds in January, Desert Ride defeated winners two starts later at Keeneland in April.
Desert Ride has never contested over 1 3/8 miles before, but trainer Neil Howard believes that the distance is within his filly's wheelhouse.
"I think [the distance] should be within her ability, especially with the way she ran the mile and a quarter last time," Howard said. "She usually settles in where she needs to be depending on how fast they're going so she fits all of that. It's no secret that this is going to be a big step up going up against open company."
Howard said that Desert Ride has remained healthy without missing any training all year long and is hoping for a big run for her first start in an open company stakes.
"I don't think she has to win to prove that she's good against open company at this level," Howard said. "We'll be discussing with the owners how to finish off the rest of the year. She hasn't missed a beat all season long. Right now, we're focusing on this as a major test."
An Ontario-homebred, Desert Ride is out of the Distorted Humor broodmare Fun in the Desert who is a half-sibling to Canadian stakes winners Eye of the Leopard, Hotep and Deceptive Vision. All are out of Canadian champion racehorse and broodmare Eye of the Sphynx.
Desert Ride will be guided by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez from post 4.
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Maker is ready with formidable pair for Jockey Club Derby
Conditioner Mike Maker will be well represented in Saturday's closing leg of the Turf Trinity, the $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational, when he saddles Henley's Joy for Bloom Racing Stable and Kadar for Phoenix Thoroughbreds.
Henley's Joy captured the first leg of the Turf Trinity, the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational on July 6, but finished a disappointing fifth in the second leg, the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 4.
Maker said that Henley's Joy and stablemate Kadar, who finished seventh in the Saratoga Derby, both had excuses and is hopeful for a better effort on Saturday's test which is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" qualifying race for the Longines Turf.
"They each came back out of that race in good order," said Maker. "Henley's Joy kind of had a rough trip in there having to travel wide and Kadar's chances were compromised at the start. Each of them has been training well since then."
A son of Kitten's Joy, Henley's Joy started his career in strong fashion winning three starts from five races as a sophomore, including stakes wins at Kentucky Downs and in the Pulpit last December at Gulfstream Park.
His lone victory in seven starts this year came in the Belmont Derby, but the hard-luck colt has posted a pair of second place finishes in the Kitten's Joy in January at Gulfstream and the Grade 3 Transylvania in April at Keeneland.
"We look forward to running him back at Belmont where he ran his best career race so far," said Maker. "We think both he and Kadar will appreciate the stretch out in distance."
A Scat Daddy colt, Kadar began his career in Europe where he broke his maiden in September of 2018 at Haydock Racecourse. Following a fourth-place-finish in the Feilden in April at Newmarket, he was transferred to Maker. Finishing third in his North American debut in an optional-claiming race on July 18 at Saratoga, he followed with his seventh-place finish in the Saratoga Derby.
"He's kind of had two interesting trips in his two starts here," said Maker. "He's a little slow coming out of the gate coming from Europe, which might have cost him in his first start. He completely blew his chances last out, but with the distance on Saturday he doesn't have to be rushed out of the gate which should be to his benefit."
At odds of 5-1 on the morning line Henley's Joy will leave from post 3 while Kadar will depart from post 7 at odds of 15-1.
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Lady Prancealot ships for Jockey Club Oaks
Graded stakes winner Lady Prancealot will venture outside of her Southern California base for the first time this year in Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks at Belmont Park.
Trained by Richard Baltas, the Irish-bred Sir Prancealot bay made the grade two starts back in the Grade 3 Honeymoon on June 1 at Santa Anita and was subsequently third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks won by Cambier Parc. She has finished in the money in all five of her starts this year.
Following her first five career starts in Europe under the tutelage of David Evans, she was transferred to Baltas, for whom she was twice second against stakes company in her first two starts in the United States. She did not score her first North American victory until her fifth start in the country when defeating winners over the Santa Anita turf in February, which kicked off her sophomore campaign.
"She's just a one-run filly," Baltas said. "Looking at the race, it's not as tough as it usually is in New York, but there are still some nice ones from Europe coming over. We're taking a shot in a big race. It's coming back a little quick, but she seems ready to go."
Baltas has enjoyed success training progeny of Sir Prancealot. Two years ago, he saddled Madam Dancealot to two graded stakes victories in Southern California. On Monday, Baltas debuted Applecross in the United States, who ran third in the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf.
"They're very small, but they seem to have a lot of run," said Baltas. "They seem like the type of horses that you can really stretch out. Most of them like to come from behind. They run short in Europe, but when they come over here they seem to do well when they stretch out. They like the firm ground."
Owned by Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Jerry Arntz, Craig Arntz, Josie Arntz, Christopher T. Dunn, Donald Durando and Jeremy Peskoff, Lady Prancealot was bred by Tolly-Ho Stud and is out of the Haatef broodmare Naqrah. She is a direct descendant of 1986 Champion 2-Year-Old Brave Raj.
Jockey Joe Talamo, who piloted Lady Prancealot in her last three starts, will be back aboard on Saturday.
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HOF jockey John Velazquez nearing graded stakes win milestone
Hall of Fame Jockey John Velazquez is approaching fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey's record of 660 graded stakes wins in the United States and Canada.
Velazquez, at 659 graded stakes wins, enjoyed a tremendous summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, where he recorded graded wins with Code of Honor [Grade 1 Runhappy Travers], Mind Control [Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy], Sistercharlie [Grade 1 Diana], Significant Form [Grade 2 Ballston Spa], and Global Access [Grade 3 Saranac].
Over the summer, the veteran rider, who boasts 6,110 career wins heading into Friday's Belmont Park opener, also traveled to Del Mar to capture the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks with Cambier Parc and to Arlington Park for a victory in the Grade 1 Beverly D. with Sistercharlie.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, Velazquez also notched a graded stakes win in his native Puerto Rico with King Seraf in the 2008 Grade 1 Copa Velocidad at Camarero.
A seven-time Eclipse Award winner, Jerry Bailey, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995, recorded two wins in each Triple Crown race including Belmont Stakes scores with Hansel  and Empire Maker .
The first graded events of the Belmont fall meet are slated for Saturday, September 21 with the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap and the Grade 3 Noble Damsel.
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Special offers, complimentary box seats on tap for opening weekend
On Saturday and Sunday, all NYRA Bets members are entitled to complimentary box seats and admission simply by presenting a NYRA Bets membership card or active NYRA Bets app at the Clubhouse lobby. This offer is valid on Saturday, September 7 and Sunday, September 8.
NYRA will celebrate the 2019 Turf Triple Series on Saturday by offering fans $3 general admission tickets, as well as "Triple Specials" that will include $3 Post Parade programs, hot dogs and concessions throughout Belmont Park.
For additional information on special events, including Saturday's New York Craft Brewers Festival and Family Adventure Day, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/calendar/2019-09-07
To sign up for NYRA Bets, visit the kiosk on the first floor of the grandstand or head to NYRABets.com.