It’s closing weekend at Belmont Park, and on Saturday, the annual Stars & Stripes Racing Festival concludes the spring and summer meet. The July 9 card features four graded stakes headlined by the $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational. That 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-olds on the inner turf drew 13 entries, including four European invaders.
- Race 4 – $400,000 Suburban Stakes (G2) for older horses at 1 1/4 miles.
- Race 7 – $700,000 Belmont Oaks (G1) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf.
- Race 8 – $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs.
- Race 9 – $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf.
Stars & Stripes Day
The Stars & Stripes Racing Festival has been an annual event at Belmont Park since 2014. The Belmont Derby Invitational was known as the Jamaica Handicap until 2013, and the race has been run on turf since 1994. The Belmont Derby was run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles from 1997 to 2014 before moving to its current classic 1 1/4-mile distance (10 furlongs). The race also earned Grade 1 status in 2009. The purse was increased from $500,000 to $1.2 million in 2014 and is currently at $1 million, with the winning connections receiving $535,000.
Belmont Derby Invitational field and odds
The Belmont Derby has a history that stretches back to 1929. This year’s edition drew 13 entries. Horses, odds, and jockeys below.
- Implementation (20-1) – John Velazquez
- Stolen Base (10-1) – Luis Saez
- Napoleonic War (10-1) – Flavien Prat
- Classic Causeway (20-1) – Julien Leparoux
- Grand Sonata (20-1) – Tyler Gaffalione
- Machete (FR) 20/1 – Stephane Pasquier
- Sy Dog (10-1) – Manny Franco
- Royal Patronage (FR) 12-1 – Joel Rosario
- Tiz the Bomb (6-1) – Dylan Davis
- Nations Pride (IRE) 5-1 – Frankie Dettori
- Emmanuel (6-1) – Irad Ortiz Jr.
- Limited Liability (12-1) – Jose Ortiz
- Stone Age (IRE) 9-2 – Ryan Moore
A faster, contentious pace is expected in a stronger renewal of this year’s Belmont Derby. A pair of European invaders are the best of the European runners and the horses to beat.
The favorite, Stone Age, is an Irish-bred son of the great Galileo, who became a super stallion prior to passing away a year ago in July. Stone Age won his first two races this year, including the Derby Trial, before sweating pre-start and failing to fire in his last start. The chiseled, strong galloping son of Galileo is the tepid favorite in the Belmont Derby but should be well supported in the win pool along with Pick 3, 4 and Late Pick 5.
Nations Pride (IRE) is a top contender who has won 4-of-6 starts including 2-of-3 this year. He too failed to fire in his last race at Epsom, but that racecourse is different, with its sharp, sudden turns and dramatic undulations. Expect Nations Pride to stalk and make a strong run down the lane. He’s failed to finish first or second just once, and including him in your trifecta bets is a must. Trainer Charlie Appleby has had eight wins in 14 American Grade 1 turf starts in the last two years, along with a pair of runner-up finishes for his horses.
Betting angles to consider
When evaluating past races and unable to use or gauge speed figures for European horses, it’s preferable to see the European runners excel on firm or good turf while showing they can compete with top horses. Nations Pride fits both categories, and his two previous wins at Meydan and Newmarket both came on good turf.
Last year’s Belmont Derby winner was Bolshoi Ballet, who closed from off the pace to win as the even-money favorite. Bolshoi Ballet was also sired by Galileo, and ridden by Ryan Moore and trained by Aidan O’Brien. In 2016, O’Brien also trained Belmont Derby winner Deauville (6-1), yet another son of Galileo.
For additional betting strategies on the Suburban and Victory Ride Stakes, check out the Playfecta preview and bets on those races.
You can watch and wager on all the races at TVG, which offers pari-mutuel betting and provides the perfect online destination for all horse racing enthusiasts everywhere.
Racing in New York continues with the Saratoga summer meet July 14-Sept. 5 before heading back to Belmont Park for the fall meet Sept. 15-Oct. 30.