Fields Coming Together for Stars and Stripes Racing Festival

Fields Coming Together for Stars and Stripes Racing Festival

Photo by NYRA/Coglianese Photos

NYRA Press Release: The fields are coming together for the third annual Stars & Stripes Festival at Belmont Park, which features six graded stakes worth nearly $4 million, anchored by the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby and $1 million Belmont Oaks on July 9.

The Derby and Oaks will highlight an 11-race card that includes four other graded stakes: The Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, the Grade 3, $500,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds, the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship and the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride for 3-year-old filly sprinters.

Effinex will try to rebound from his sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on June 18 at Churchill Downs as an expected heavyweight for next weekend’s Suburban for 4-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles. In 2015, the reigning New York-bred Horse of the Year beat multiple Grade 1 winner Tonalist by a head in an exciting edition of the Suburban. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Effinex closed out his season with a game second-place effort to American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic and a win in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap.

Also probable for the Suburban are Stephen Foster runner-up Eagle for owner W. S. Farish and trainer Neil Howard; Grade 3 Pimlico Special winner Noble Bird, sixth last time out in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap; Mubtaahij, returning from his second-place finish in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup and making his first start for Kiaran McLaughlin; Grade 2 Brooklyn victor Shaman Ghost; 2014 Grade 3 Withers and Gotham winner Samraat; and Grade 3 Excelsior winner Kid Cruz. El Kabeir and Turco Bravo are possible.

Good Friends Stable’s multiple graded stakes winner Private Zone will make his first start of 2016 as the headlining act in the Belmont Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs. The 7-year-old Macho Uno gelding posted a 3 ¼-length victory in last year’s Belmont Sprint, going on to win the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga Race Course and finish second to Runhappy in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Private Zone will be making his first start since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile last fall at Aqueduct Racetrack, his first start for trainer Brian Lynch.

Private Zone will likely be joined in the Sprint by Grade 2 True North hero Joking for owner-trainer Charlton Baker; Grade 3 Westchester winner Anchor Down, a distant second to Frosted last time out in his historic Met Mile victory; Holy Boss from the barn of Steve Asmussen; 2015 Grade 2 Swale winner Ready for Rye; A. P. Indian, recent winner of the Donald LeVine Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing; and Nubin Ridge for trainer Chris Englehart. LeVine Memorial runner-up Roxbury N Overton is questionable.

Keith Desormeaux trainee Swipe will make the jump back to stakes company in the Dwyer for sophomores at a mile. The Birdstone colt got a prep race over the local track on June 26, finishing a late-running third against allowance company, his first race since recovering from a procedure on his throat this spring. A four-time runner-up to Nyquist as a 2-year-old, including in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Swipe broke his maiden last summer with a hard-fought win in the Summer Juvenile Championship at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Also on tap for the Dwyer are Easy Goer winner Economic Model for Chad Brown; Grade 2 Woody Stephens runner-up Fish Trappe Road; Tale of S’avall, coming off a sixth-place effort in the Woody Stephens; maiden runner Laoban, sixth last time out in the Grade 1 Preakness; and Bode Miller’s Nate’s Tizzy from the barn of Francis Abbot, III. Majesto, Unbridled Outlaw and Outwork are questionable.

Rounding out the festival stakes action, the Victory Ride, for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs, is expected to attract recent New Start winner Behrnik’s Bank; Grade 3 Miss Preakness victor Lost Raven; New York-bred Bouwerie heroine Flatterywillgetyou; and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks runner-up Paola Queen. Appealing Maggie, Coppa, Malibu Stacy and Quick Release are possible.

GRADE 1, $1.25 MILLION BELMONT DERBY PROBABLES: Airoforce; Applicator; Aquaphobia; Beach Patrol; Billy’s Kitten; Call Provision; Camelot Kitten; Deauville; Highland Sky; Humphrey Bogart; Long Island Sound; Ralis; Surgical Strike; Toughest ‘Ombre.

GRADE 1, $1 MILLION BELMONT OAKS PROBABLES: Auntie Joy; Ballydoyle; Catch a Glimpse; Cheekaboo; Coolmore; Decked Out; Harmonize; Land Over Sea; Last Waltz; Magnanime; Pricedtoperfection; Stays in Vegas; Time and Motion; Turret Rocks.

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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