|Edited Press Release—-|
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Belmont Park’s opening Saturday will feature three prestigious stakes, including the inaugural running of the $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies over the inner turf.
The 1 3/8-mile test is the final leg of the newly minted “Turf Tiara”, which started with the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks and continued with the Saratoga Oaks Invitational in August. The race’s male counterpart, the $1 million Jockey Club Derby, along with the $300,000 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational, also feature on the 11-race card.
NBC will present live coverage and analysis of the Jockey Club Oaks and Jockey Club Derby as part of a nationwide broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.
Three European sophomore fillies ship in for the contest, led by Madame Stella Thayer’s Group 1-winner Wonderment, who seeks her first win since the Group 1 Criterium de Saint Cloud last October in France. Trained by Nicolas Clement, the Irish-bred daughter of Camelot enters the Jockey Club Oaks off of a sixth-place finish in the Group 3 Prix Minerve on August 11 at Deauville.
Regular rider Stephane Pasquier will have the mount from post 6.
Also shipping to Belmont is Love So Deep, who enters the race off of a close second in the Group 2 Darley Prix de Pomone at Deauville.
Trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam, the Japanese-bred daughter of Deep Impact won the British Stallion Studs EBF Chalice Stakes at Newmarket two starts back and seeks a fourth career victory.
“I was intrigued by the purse and I feel that it’ll get [graded] status next year and I felt that it was a good opportunity when she’s been improving hugely in her last two starts,” Chapple-Hyam said. “The jockey reports back that she is much more solid and stronger. She’s a very small filly, built like a bull. She’s very fit.”
Chapple-Hyam said that Love So Deep can run over any ground but would be better suited going over a firm turf.
“She goes well over any ground which in intriguing. She goes on firm going and she goes on soft ground,” Chapple-Hyam said. “Her regular rider John Egan feels that she’s better on the firm and I was kind of hoping that’s what I would get in New York.”
Love So Deep is out of the Sadler’s Wells broodmare Soinlovewithyou, who is a half-sister to five-time Group 1 winner Duke of Marmalade and well as 2013 Group 1 Epsom Derby-winner Ruler of the World.
Jamie Spencer will pilot Love So Deep from post 5.
His Highness the Aga Khan’s Edisa rounds out the European contingent, entering off of two runner-up efforts against grouped stakes company overseas. Last out, the Alain de Royer-Dupre trained daughter of Kitten’s Joy was second in the Group 3 Prix de Psyche on July 27 at Deauville, which came after running second in the Group 2 Prix de Malleret at Saint Cloud.
Jockey Flavien Prat has the mount from the rail.
Trainer Neil Howard will saddle Sam-Son Farm’s Desert Ride who breaks from post 4. The homebred daughter of Candy Ride enters the Jockey Club Oaks off of a victory against fellow Ontario-bred in Woodbine’s Wonder Where, two starts after a win over the Toronto oval’s all weather surface in the Woodbine Oaks.
Desert Ride is the first foal out of Fun in the Desert, whose dam Eye of the Sphynx was Canada’s Champion 3-year-old Filly in 2004.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will guide Desert Ride from post 4.
Lady Prancealot has never finished off the board in five starts this year and will look to continue her consistent ways when breaking from post 3.
Trained by California-based conditioner Richard Baltas, the Irish-bred bay daughter of Sir Prancealot won the Grade 3 Honeymoon at Santa Anita two starts back before finishing third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks to Cambier Parc.
Lady Prancealot is owned by Craig Arntz, Josie Arntz, Donald Durando, Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone and Jerry McClanahan. She will be ridden by Joe Talamo.
Godolphin’s Romantic Pursuit makes her stakes debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
The Medaglia d’Oro bay graduated at sixth asking over the inner turf at Belmont Park going a mile-and-a-quarter and went on to defeat elders in her next start at Saratoga going an extra eighth of a mile.
“It’s a move up but we like the distance,” McLaughlin said. “She beat three and up last time and this is straight three year old fillies. We’re looking forward to her running a big race.”
Romantic Pursuit is out of dual Grade 1 winner and 2012 Champion 3-year-old Filly Questing, who also was owned by Godolphin and trained by McLaughlin. She will break from post 2 under Luis Saez.
Completing the field are Dyna Passer [post 8, Jose Lezcano] and Art of Almost [post 9, Javier Castellano].