The undefeated Shakespeare makes his graded stakes debut in the $200,000-added Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) Sunday at Belmont Park, taking on a field that includes grade I winner Meteor Storm and grade II winner Greek Sun.
The son of Theatrical
faces five rivals in the 1 1/8-mile turf test.
Shakespeare returned from knee surgery and a 16-month layoff with an awesome second-level allowance victory on opening day at Saratoga.
Trained by Bill Mott, Shakespeare won the first two races of his career in the winter of 2004 at Gulfstream Park easily but suffered a knee injury after winning the Caltech in March of '04.
"I thought he was retired," said Mott, who won this race three years ago with Startac. "I guess he's one of those horses that made a miraculous recovery."
Shakespeare had no rust or cobwebs in his four-year-old debut July 27. In the bridle from the bell, he blew past Whale in the final furlong and won going away.
"If he improves off that race, he'll be tough," Mott said. "It will be a little different trying a graded stakes with him."
Meteor Storm won the Manhattan (gr. I) at Belmont in June of 2004 and might appreciate cutting back in distance after finishing fourth last time out in Saratoga's Sword Dancer (gr. IT). The Sword Dancer's first two finishers, King's Drama and Relaxed Gesture, are running in the Man o' War (gr. IT) Saturday.
The Bobby Frankel-trained Greek Sun is 4-1-0 from six starts. He makes his first start since winning the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) in October of 2004.$200,000-added Belmont Breeders' Cup (gr. IIT), 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
1. Muqbil, Kiaran McLaughlin, Richard Migliore, 113
2. Evening Attire, Pat Kelly, Jean-Luc Samyn, 112
3. Proud Man, Richard Stoklosa, John Velazquez, 113
4. Meteor Storm, Wallace Dollase, Javier Castellano, 118
5. Greek Sun, Bobby Frankel, Edgar Prado, 116
6. Shakespeare, Bill Mott, Jerry Bailey, 114Meteor Storm will race with blinkers.