Jambalaya shoots for his third consecutive stakes victory in Saturday's $300,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs on the inner turf at Belmont Park.
The Jamaica is one of three stakes races on Saturday's nine-race program at Belmont. Taking center stage will be the Champagne (gr. I) for juveniles and Frizette (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies.
An evenly matched field of seven for the Jamaica is headed by Jambalaya and Silver Whistle, the 1-2 finishers in Saratoga's Saranac (gr. III). Crown Point and Watchmon were entered as main track only. Rain is forecast on both Friday and Saturday.
Jambalaya, a $2,500 yearling buy in September of 2003, has won all four of his starts on turf. Jambalaya's victories include Woodbine's Breeders Stakes, the third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. Jambalaya has earned 182 times his purchase price.
Trainer Catherine Day Phillips says she has been pleased with Jambalaya's training in the weeks following the Saranac. That's a good thing, because Jambalaya beat Silver Whistle by the barest of noses. Jamaica rival Woodlander was lurking a close third, too.
"I think he's better going farther than a mile and an eighth, but I'm happy we picked up John Velazquez," Day Phillips said. "He's obviously got a lot of experience riding the turf there. This horse has a phenomenal turn of foot on the turf."
The Irish-bred Rebel Rebel began his career last autumn in Great Britain and would go on to race in a pair of group I races in England and Ireland over the spring. On April 30th at Newmarket, the colt finished second in the Two Thousand Guineas Stakes at odds of 100-1. Three weeks later, he was fourth to Dubawi and Oratorio in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas at the Curragh.
Rebel Rebel was purchased privately by IEAH Stables after the Two Thousand Guineas run. He has started once in this country for IEAH, finishing a good third in Colonial Downs' Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT). The winner of that race, English Channel, finished a narrow second to undefeated Shakespeare in the Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont Oct. 3.
Silver Whistle goes out for trainer Bill Mott, who won this race two years ago with Stroll. Silver Whistle, 2-2-0 from seven starts, has suffered heartbreakers in his last pair, losing Saratoga's Hall of Fame (gr. IIT) and Saranac by a nose. $300,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 mile (turf)
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Chestertown Slew, John Kimmel, Richard Migliore, 114
2. Woodlander, Tom Albertrani, Jose Espinoza, 118
3. T.D. Vance, Graham Motion, Jose Santos, 119
4. Fishy Advice, David Donk, Javier Castellano (1), 115
5. Jambalaya, C. Phillips, John Velazquez, 121
6. Rebel Rebel (IRE), Richard Dutrow Jr., Gary Stevens, 118
7. Silver Whistle, Bill Mott, Jerry Bailey, 116Main Track Only
8. Crown Point, David Donk, no rider, 119
9. Watchmon, Pat Reynolds, Javier Castellano (2), 118