The Brooklyn Invitational Stakes (gr. II) has had a significant purse bump from $200,000 to $500,000 that will be sought by a wide-open field of eight runners on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard June 7 at Belmont Park in New York.
The 12-furlong Brooklyn for older horses stands pretty much on its own with the cancellation of the Breeders' Cup Marathon this year, and it is a distance not well-suited to most of today's Thoroughbred runners in North America.
The only North American graded stakes winner in the Brooklyn field is Micromanage , who took the Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) at 1 3/16 miles in March. He returned to run third in the 10-furlong Drosselmeyer Stakes at Belmont last month, a race won by Brooklyn candidate Ground Transport. The latter is on a two-race win streak and has run first or second in nine of 14 career starts. Micromanage has hit the board 10 times in 15 starts, but neither has run longer than 1 1/4 miles.
In fact, one of only two Brooklyn starters to have gone 1 1/2 miles is the Argentine-bred Ever Rider, who has navigated the distance four times with two wins and two seconds. He split Ground Transport and Micromanage in the Drosselmeyer, finishing second after having been runner-up to Majestic Harbor in the 1 1/2-mileTokyo City Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Park. The 6-year-old Ever Rider will carry high weight of 121 pounds in the Brooklyn.
Eriugena, an Ireland-bred, has run almost exclusively on the turf (10 of 13 starts) but most recently won an optional claiming contest on the Churchill Downs dirt last month by daylight after winning an off-the-turf allowance heat at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in March. The Brooklyn will be his initial attempt at stakes company.
Trainer Bob Baffert ships Cat Burglar from Kentucky to the East Coast after a third-place finish in the Pimlico Special (gr. III) last month going 1 3/16 miles. Cat Burgler has hit the board six times in seven starts.
Golden Soul, most famously second in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), has not replicated that form in six subsequent starts, including a ninth-place effort in the Belmont Stakes and another ninth in a 12-furlong turf test at Kentucky Downs last September.
New York-bred Bigger Is Bettor has been in mostly in restricted races the past 19 months, but did win against open company in the Slew O Gold Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in his most recent start last November. The veteran campaigner has won five of 30 starts.
Norumbega finished second behind Micromanage in the Skip Away and was also the runner-up in the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct last fall. His most recent outing in the Ben Ali (gr. III) resulted in a fading eighth. He has not gone further than nine furlongs.
Brooklyn Invitational, $500,000, 3rd Race, Belmont Park, June 7, approximate post 12:40 EDT , 1 1/2 miles, 4-year-olds and up
Post position, jockey, weight, trainer
1) Eriugena, Mike Smith, 117, Mike Maker
2) Ground Transport, John Velazquez, 117, Mike Stidham
3) Micromanage, Javier Castellano, 119, Todd Pletcher
4) Cat Burglar, Rosie Napravnik, 117, Bob Baffert
5) Ever Rider, Victor Espinoza, 121, Maria Munoz
6) Golden Soul, Shawn Bridgmohan, 115, Dallas Stewart
7) Bigger Is Bettor, A.S. Arroyo, 115, Rodrigo Ubillo
8) Norumbega, Joel Rosario, 115, Shug McGaughey