Forbidden Apple helps to close out Belmont
By Bob Ehalt
One and done.
That is where it stands.
One more weekend at Belmont Park and then the New York racing scene shifts to Saratoga on July 20 for its wondrous 40-day meet.
The finale starts on Saturday with a pair of stakes topped by the $150,000 Forbidden Apple, a one-mile turf stakes.
The field of seven features Disco Partner, who won the Forbidden Apple during a stellar 2017 campaign that culminated with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar.
The 6-year-old horse is particularly fond of Belmont, winning 8 of 12 starts there, with two seconds and a world-record time of 1:05.67 for six furlongs on the turf in the 2017 Jaipur to his credit at the Elmont, N.Y., track.
In his most recent start, Disco Partner made it back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Jaipur, prevailing by a length for trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
“We gave him a few easy weeks after the Jaipur and he had a very good work last Sunday on the turf,” said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. “We were very happy with that and he came out of it in good order. Going back to a mile, we’ll see what happens. As long as the turf is firm he should appreciate the going. The distance I’m not sure is a question mark for any reason. From five and half (furlongs) to a mile he’s been good. As long as the ground is firm we should be okay.”
A 9-5 morning-line favorite, Disco Partner should face his biggest challenge from Projected (3-1) and Pocket Change (6-1).
Projected is winless in his two 2018 starts, finishing third in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes and second in the Danger’s Hour at Aqueduct. The late-running son of Showcasing, who is trained by Chad Brown, lost both of those races by just 1 ¼ lengths.
Pocket Change was fifth behind Disco Partner in the Jaipur, but had a rough trip while losing by just 1 ¼ lengths in suffering his first career defeat. He’s also trained by Jason Servis, who has been en fuego at the Belmont meet, winning with 18 of his first 38 starts.
Also on hand will be Blind Ambition (8-1), who won the Elusive Quality at Belmont in April but was then seventh in the Jaipur.
“His last breeze, his energy levels were good,” said Byron Hughes, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “He seems to like the Belmont turf course so we’re looking to give him one last shot on it before Saratoga. He ran well getting to the lead in the Elusive Quality. (Jockey John Velazquez) did a great job with him there so we’re hoping for a similar result.”
The field also includes Mr. Havercamp (8-1), Offering Plan (6-1), who is also trained by Brown, and Voodoo Song (5-1).