USA: O'Brien sends powerful team for Belmont Oaks

Ballydoyle (closest) and stablemate Coolmore will race in the Belmont Oaks

  PICTURE: EDWARD WHITAKER  

 By Nicholas Godfrey 7.01am 9 JUL 2016 

Preview: USA, Saturday 10.46pm BST (live on ATR)

Belmont Park: Belmont Oaks Invitational (Grade 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo fillies

AS THE revamped Stars & Stripes Festival enters its third year at Belmont Park, there has yet to be an overseas winner of either of the two $ 1 million turf races for three-year-olds that provide the feature events of a valable card.

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Aidan O’Brien is plainly keen to right that particular wrong, however, as he sends a powerful team across the Atlantic, where Ballydoyle (Colm O’Donoghue) and Coolmore (Jamie Spencer) face Breeders’ Cup winner Catch A Glimpse in the Belmont Oaks Invitational, an hour after Deauville and Long Island Sound take their chance in the Belmont Derby.

A Group 1 winner last term in the Prix Marcel Boussac, Ballydoyle has run in a pair of Classics this season, finishing second to stablemate Minding in the 1,000 Guineas before a slightly disappointing sixth place in the Prix de Diane three weeks ago.

Softish ground was against the Galileo filly at Chantilly, where Coolmore was one place ahead of her stable companion – and she clearly warrants serious respect here. “Ballydoyle ran a very good race from a bad draw in the Prix de Diane on ground which wasn’t ideal for her,” reported O’Brien. “We’ve been happy with her since.

“Coolmore finished just in front of Ballydoyle in the Diane and that run showed that she had come on a good bit from her disappointing run in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. We think and hope that she can step up again.”

The home team is headed by Catch A Glimpse (Mark Casse/Florent Geroux), whose winning streak stretched to seven last time out with a comfortable victory over males in the Penn Mile. The Irish visitors have a score to settle with this admirable filly, who had the O’Brien-trained Alice Springs (and Nemoralia) behind when winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles’ Turf at Keeneland in October.

The question here is whether her stamina can hold out: she likes to race prominently and is going further than she’s ever encountered in the past. “We think she’s a really talented filly – she’s really gutsy,” said Norm Casse, the son and assistant to Mark, best known for Tepin’s exploits.

“This will be a real test for her as far as distance, but if they let her get comfortable early, she’ll be really hard to run down.”

Time And Motion (James Toner/John Velazquez) is on a four-timer after beating a couple of these rivals in a $ 200,000 event here a month ago, while Kentucky Oaks runner-up Land Over Sea (Doug O’Neill/Mario Gutierrez) hits the turf for the first time in 12 months. Listed winner Magnanime (Fabrice Chappet/Julien Leparoux) represents France.

Although this is only the third running in its current guise, the Belmont Oaks in effect is a pumped-up version of the now-defunct Garden City Stakes. Including that race, America’s top turf trainer has won the last four runnings. He runs three here, all big prices with British bookmakers, namely Last Waltz (Manny Franco), Noble Beauty (Javier Castellano) and Pricedtoperfection (Irad Ortiz).

Belmont Oaks

Ladbrokes: 9-4 Ballydoyle, 11-4 Catch A Glimpse, 7 Time And Motion, 10 Harmonize, 14 Coolmore, 16 Land Over Sea, Magnanime, 20 Auntie Joy, Noble Beauty, Pricedtoperfection, 25 Decked Out, 33 Last Waltz, 66 Secure Access

 
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