Belmont Stakes Day Selections
by Craig Jones for Knightsbridge Bloodstock
We have a great card of Grade 1 racing at Belmont on Saturday night, with six fascinating top quality races. The Belmont Stakes is the pick of those and Japanese raider Epicharis heads what is a fascinating field.
Epicharis is a highly promising three year old who went unbeaten in his first four starts, before suffering defeat for the first time at Meydan in March. He won three out of three as a two year old, including a win in a Grade 3 race on his final start, smashing the field by a huge 30 lengths.
But Epicharis didn’t train on Thursday, the 3-year-old colt was treated with an anti-inflammatory for lameness in his right front hoof, calling into question whether he will be fit to run in Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown.
He moved up in company as a three year old and won a stakes race in Japan before tasting defeat for the first time during a trip to Meydan.
That day he bumped into the highly promising Thunder Snow, and was beaten a head by that horse, who has since ran well behind British Guineas double winner Churchill. The context of that form is very good, especially as there may be more to come from Epicharis.
This is another step up in grade, but Epicharis is still improving and I am hoping to see a huge run from the Japanese raider this weekend.
Elsewhere the Acorn Stakes is the first Grade 1 race on the card and in this one Abel Tasman will be very tough to beat if coming here in the same form as she did when she won the Kentucky Oaks. The ground will be very different this weekend from the sloppy surface she ran on last time out, but she should go on the forecast fast ground and I expect her to be fighting out the finish.
All eyes will be on Songbird in the Ogden Phipps Stakes, who reappears for her first run since going very close in the Breeders Cup Distaff. She lost be a nose that day and if she is 100% ready on her first run she should win this weekend.
The Just A Game Stakes looks to be a match between two top horses, Dickinson and Roca Rojo. Dickinson has won her last three races and she has already ran four times this season, while Roca Rojo has ran just once this season, where she won a Grade 2. She may improve after that run, but Dickinson already has solid form in the book and this looks to be a great clash between the two. The improving Mor Spirit heads the field for the Metropolitan and further improvement would see him go close here.
In the final race before the big one, I am hoping to see Time Test win his first race on US soil after moving from the UK over the winter. He lost by a nose on his American debut in a Grade 3 and hopefully he can go one better today before having a good season in America.
We have great racing at Belmont this weekend with a lot of horses to keep an eye on, and a fascinating Japanese raider topping the bill.
Craig Jones writes about global horse racing for Knightsbridge Bloodstock