Thoroughbreds from Ireland, Great Britain, and France will be travelling to Belmont Park to face some of the top 3-year-old turf colts and fillies in the United States in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby (gr. IT) and the $1 million Belmont Oaks (gr. IT), respectively, July 9.
Fourteen colts and 14 fillies have been invited to the respective 1 1/4-mile turf races, which highlight an 11-race card at Belmont Park that includes four other graded stakes: The $500,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. II), $500,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (gr. III), and $150,000 Victory Ride (gr. III) for 3-year-old filly sprinters.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien and owners Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier, and Michael Tabor will be represented in the Derby by Beacon Rock, most recently second as the favorite in the King Edward VII Stakes (Eng-II) June 17 at Royal Ascot, and Bravery, 10th on a soft course at Chantilly in the Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I) June 5. The connections also will send out Alice Springs, third last time out in the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot, in the Oaks.
Completing the European invitees to the Derby is Chelsea Thoroughbreds Saint Tropez's Humphrey Bogart, sixth behind Across the Stars and Beacon Rock in the King Edward VII last time out and winner of the Betfred Derby Trial Stakes in May at Lingfield.
The Aga Khan's colors will be carried in the Oaks by the Dermot Weld-trained Simannka, who will be making her first start of the year. The Irish-bred daughter of Mastercraftsman made two starts as a juvenile, both at Galway; she finished second first time out and then defeated 11 others to break her maiden at seven furlongs.
Trainer Chad Brown will spearhead the American contingent with four possible entrants in the Derby, led by Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Camelot Kitten, a winner in two of his three 2016 starts, including the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs and the Pennine Ridge Stakes (gr. IIIT) June 4. Call Provision, third in the Pennine Ridge; the Ramsey's Billy's Kitten, who will make his stakes debut; and American Turf runner-up Beach Patrol round out Brown's Derby runners, with Last Waltz and Priced to Perfection heading to the Oaks.
Making her Belmont debut in the Oaks for trainer Mark Casse will be 2015 Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse, who has won seven straight, including six consecutive graded stakes. The City Zip filly defeated males last time out in the Penn Mile (gr. IIIT), and previously ticked off wins in the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIT) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) last year, and the HerecomesthebrideStakes (gr. IIIT), Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT), and Edgewood Stakes (gr. IIIT) this spring.
Casse also will send out multiple graded stakes winner Airoforce, runner-up to Catch a Glimpse in the Penn Mile, in the Derby.
Rounding out the invitees to the Derby are Florida import Applicator, winner of the Gleaming Stakes in May at Gulfstream Park; the Arnaud Delacour-trained Aquaphobia, who took the Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park last time out; Pennine Ridge runner-up Highland Sky from trainer Barclay Tagg; Ralis, seeking his first win since the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) last year at Saratoga Race Course; Arlington Classic winner (gr. IIIT), and Toughest 'Ombre, fourth last time out in the Pennine Ridge.
The Oaks invitees include graded stakes winners Auntie Joy, who took the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill last time out; Cheekaboo, 23-1 star of the Honeymoon Stakes (gr. IIT) June 19 at Santa Anita Park; Decked Out, winner of the Providencia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita for trainer Keith Desormeaux; Reddam Racing's Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) winner Land Over Sea; Senorita Stakes (gr. IIIT) winner Stays in Vegas from trainer Jerry Hollendorfer; Phillips Racing Partnership's Time and Motion, whose three-race win streak includes the Wonder Again Stakes and the Memories of Silver Stakes,and the Bill Mott-trained Harmonize, second in the Wonder Again.