Star-studded fields assembled for Stars and Stripes Festival at Belmont Park
By New York Hot List Staff
The Stars and Stripes Racing Festival at Belmont Park on Saturday features five graded stakes races. With purse money totaling $3 million, many of the top thoroughbreds in the country will be on the track.
Let’s take a look at what the trainers of some of the top horses have to say about the chances of their horses.
Race 6 is the $250,000 Dwyer (G3) and Code of Honor, the 4-5 morning line favorite, returns to the races after being placed third in the controversial finish in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Trainer Shug McGaughey expects a lot from the son of Noble Mission in the second half of the year. There is a lot of early speed in this one-turn mile which should set-up Code of Honor’s closing move.
“I knew going in that if we didn’t win the Derby we would wait on him. That was our game plan,” McGaughey said. “He’s been training excellent. He’s mentally matured and physically matured and has done everything right since the Derby.”
Concrete Rose has won four of his five career starts including a win over Newspaperofrecord earlier in the year. Yet, trainer Rusty Arnold and Concrete Rose come into the $750,000 Belmont Oaks (G1), which is race 7, as the 3-1 second choice behind the aforementioned Chad Brown runner.
“She’s improved from two to three but we had a little edge on Newspaperofrecord last time out,” said Arnold. “We got a race in at Tampa and Newspaperofrecord was coming off a longer layoff, so the edge went to us. Now, she [Newspaperofrecord] has two races into her and we have two races in us, so it’s a different ballgame now.”
Promises Fulfilled, the 2-1 favorite, rattled off three graded stakes wins in a row last year after trainer Dale Romans moved him back to sprinting. In 2019, the son of Shackleford has been facing very tough competition, but now he returns to his favorite distance of seven-furlongs in race 8, the $300,000 John A. Nerud (G2).
“He’s doing very well,” said Romans. “We freshened him up a bit after last year’s campaign and he came out of his last race well. He’s a young 4-year-old and he’s always been improving. Unfortunately, he happens to compete in the toughest division in America.”
The rest of the field of fourteen 3-year-olds in race 9, the $1 million Belmont Derby (G1), will have to contend with the four horses that trainer Chad Brown has in the race. The group is led by two colts that are unbeaten after three starts each. Digital Age is listed as the 9-2 morning line favorite based on his victory in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs. Demarchelier extended his win streak when he won the Pennine Ridge (G3) at Belmont Park.
The $700,000 Suburban (G2) is race 10 and it features one of the top older horses in the country in Catholic Boy. The Jonathan Thomas trainee has won graded stakes on the turf and the dirt as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old. He will try and do it again on Saturday after winning his 2019 debut on the grass at Pimlico.
“It would be a pretty remarkable addition to his resume,” Thomas said of winning graded stakes on both surfaces for three years in a row. “The main reason he started on grass is because during the early part of the summer there’s more route opportunities in the grass and that’s why we went that direction. He never struck us as a sprinter and because he happened to win on the grass it just made sense for us to keep him on it until other opportunities came up.”
The first three of the graded stakes, in races 6 through 8, make up the New York Hot List Special Saturday Pick 3. You can get full analysis of those races on this website free of charge.