Concrete Rose and Newspaperofrecord will renew their rivalry in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, a 1 1/4-mile test on the inner turf featuring an international field of nine sophomore fillies at Belmont Park.
Saturday marks the inaugural $5.25 million Turf Triple Series, featuring the Turf Trinity and Turf Tiara for sophomores over three legs at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, headlining the Stars & Stripes Festival to be broadcast live nationwide on NBC.
2019 Belmont Oaks Invitational Odds & Entries
Race 7 at Belmont Park on Saturday, July 06 - Post 4:30 PM
|1||Olendon (FR)||9-2||John Velazquez
|2||Newspaperofrecord (IRE)||5-2||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|3||Coral Beach (IRE)||15-1||Michael Hussey
|4||Concrete Rose||3-1||Julien Leparoux
|George Arnold, II|
|5||Cafe Americano||12-1||Javier Castellano
|6||Just Wonderful||6-1||Wayne Lordan
|7||Jodie (JPN)||20-1||Miyabi Muto
|8||Dyna Passer||30-1||Joel Rosario
|9||Cambier Parc||4-1||Jose Ortiz
Concrete Rose, a dark bay daughter of Twirling Candy trained by George 'Rusty' Arnold, has won 4-of-5 career starts. Her only loss came in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf when eighth in a race won by Newspaperofrecord.
A winner at first asking in a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint at Saratoga, Concrete Rose doubled up with a three-length win in the Grade 2 Jessamine in October at Keeneland ahead of her Breeder's Cup run.
She opened her 2019 campaign with a half-length victory in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs and last out, in the Grade 3 Edgewood on May 3 at Churchill Downs, Concrete Rose provided Newspaperofrecord her first career defeat with a rallying 3 ¾-length score.
Arnold said Concrete Rose has progressed nicely in her sophomore season but believes Newspaperofrecord will again be a formidable foe.
"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."
Arnold said Julien Leparoux, who will pilot Concrete Rose from post 4, will have plenty of options to sort out a trip.
"She has won from five and a half furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth. She has speed of her own if there's none in there. She'll be comfortable," said Arnold. "If there's a lot of speed in there, she's not rank and she can lay back. She's done it both ways. She was very close in her race at Tampa, and very close in her race at Keeneland last year. She came from off the pace in her last race, so it's really not a concern."
Arnold said Concrete Rose has trained well as she prepares to race off a two-month layoff.
"We're ready. It was a decision to make," said Arnold. "We could have squeezed a race in the middle, but we wanted to have some horse left for the summer and the fall so we gave her a little break. Hopefully, we'll be a little more active from here on out."
Belmont's leading trainer Chad Brown will saddle a trio of contenders including Newspaperofrecord, Cambier Parc and Cafe Americano.
Undefeated in her juvenile season, Newspaperofrecord boasted wins in both the Grade 2 Miss Grillo and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Following her runner-up effort to Concrete Rose in the Edgewood, the front-running filly again finished second in the Grade 3 Wonder Again at nine furlongs on June 6 on the Belmont turf. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will retain the mount from post 2.
OXO Equine's Cambier Parc boasts a record of three wins from five starts including a score in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park. By Medaglia d'Oro, he is out of the graded stakes winning dam Sealy Hill, who was Canada's 2007 Horse of the Year. Jose Ortiz has the call from post 9.
Peter Brant's Cafe Americano is undefeated in two career starts, including a June 1 optional claiming score at Belmont that earned a 76 Beyer Speed Figure for the nine-furlong trip. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano takes over from post 5 aboard the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro and multiple Sovereign Award-winner Roxy Gap.
Legendary Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien will saddle a pair of top contenders, led by Just Wonderful and Coral Beach.
Just Wonderful, a bay daughter of Dansili out of the Montjeu mare Wading, captured the Group 3 Flame of Tara Irish E.B.F. at the Curragh in September and two starts later was victorious in the Group 2 Shadwell Rockfel at Newmarket.
She completed her 2-year-old campaign with a good fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Winless in three sophomore starts, including an eighth last out in the Group 1 Coronation at Ascot, Just Wonderful comes from the same family as last year's Belmont Oaks-winner Athena.
O'Brien said the added distance on Saturday should help Just Wonderful.
"On pedigree, there's a chance that she might get it but she seems to be in good form since her last run," said O'Brien.
Coral Beach, a bay daughter of Zoffany, owns a record of 2-1-2 from 10 starts. She graduated in October at Cork when sprinting six furlongs and came back to beat the boys in October in the Group 3 Killavullan at Leopardstown.
Winless in three attempts this season, Coral Beach arrives at the Belmont Oaks from a good fourth in the Sandringham on June 21 at Ascot.
"I think she's going to handle the stretch out in distance very well. She ran well the last day at Ascot and it looked like the step up in trip would help her massively," said O'Brien assistant T.J. Comerford. "I think stepping up in distance really should help both our fillies."
Wayne Lordan will ride Just Wonderful from post 6 and Michael Hussey has the call on Coral Beach from post 3.
Wonder Stables' Olendon, trained by Pascal Bary, will make her North American debut in the Belmont Oaks.
Last out, the Le Havre filly finished second behind well-regarded Siyarafina in the Group 1 Prix Saint Alary, a 1 1/4-mile test for sophomore fillies over good to soft going at Longchamp in France.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will guide Olendon from the inside post.
Tadakazu Obama's Jodie, a daughter of Daiwa Major bred by the famous Northern Farm, has contested all nine career starts on turf in her native Japan.
She graduated on debut last June in Tokyo and followed up with a good third in the Group 3 Niigata Nisai at Niigata at one mile on the turf. In November, Jodie captured the Akamatsu Sho over one mile of firm turf at Tokyo in November.
Trained by Hirofumi Toda, Jodie opened her sophomore campaign in February, finishing third in the Group 1 Daily Hai Queen Cup at Tokyo when racing at one-mile for the sixth time. She stretched out to 1 1/4 miles in April finishing third in the Group 2 Sankei Sports Sho Flora Stakes at Tokyo. Last out, in the 1 1/2-miles Group 1 Japanese Oaks, Jodie set the early pace before fading to finish 14th.
Miyabi Muto will pilot the front-running filly from post 7.
Rounding out an impressive field is Woodslane Farm's maiden winner Dyna Passer. Trained by Tom Albertrani, the Lemon Drop Kid chestnut is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Sadler's Joy. Last out, on May 23 at Belmont, Dyna Passer graduated by a length in a 1 3/8-mile turf maiden.
Joel Rosario will ride Dyna Passer for the first time from post 8.
The Turf Tiara will continue August 2 at Saratoga with the inaugural $750,000 Saratoga Oaks, held at 1 3/16-miles (1,900 meters) on the Saratoga lawn and broadcast live nationally on FS2, kicking off Whitney weekend festivities.
The final jewel will be the first-ever $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks slated for September 7 at Belmont, will be contested at 1 3/8-miles (2,200 meters) on the turf, and aired live on NBC, as part of an action-packed weekend of racing to raise the curtain on the Belmont fall meet.
The Belmont Oaks Invitational is slated as Race 7 on Saturday's 11-race card. First post is 1 p.m.
Japanese-bred Jodie preps for G1 Belmont Oaks Invitational
Japanese-bred contenders Jodie and Master Fencer will add to the international flair of the inaugural $5.25 million Turf Triple Series, featuring the Turf Trinity and Turf Tiara for sophomores over three legs at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, set to begin Saturday as part of the Stars & Stripes Festival to be broadcast live nationwide on NBC.
Tadakazu Obama's Jodie, a daughter of Daiwa Major bred by Northern Farm, arrived at Belmont on Saturday morning. The talented bay breezed five furlongs on Belmont's dirt training track in 1:03.80 on Tuesday morning under Miyabi Muto, who will guide the filly in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational at 10 furlongs (2,000 meters) on the inner turf.
Trainer Hirofumi Toda said he was pleased with the filly's first serious training session in New York.
"I'm very satisfied with the time. We didn't want to over train her but also not too easy. The time tells us she did enough and it was a nice work," said Toda, via racing manager and translator Hiroshi Ando.
Muto was just as pleased as Toda as he piloted Jodie through her training on a warm morning.
"She has really adapted well to being here and the warm weather. I felt comfortable on the horse and mentally she was very relaxed. I'm really pleased with how she traveled this morning," said Muto, who is in New York for the first time. "She's a beautiful mover and I'm very pleased with her breeze."
Following the breeze, Muto guided Jodie to the Belmont turf for a light jog.
"I thought the turns would be tighter, but it's actually very much like Tokyo Racecourse. The turf felt very similar to me, as well as the beautiful grandstand which is very big," said Muto.
Toda said the similarities between Tokyo Racecourse and Belmont Park, in particular racing left-handed, will be important for Jodie, who had two wins and two third-place finishes in Tokyo ahead of her off-the-board effort in the 1 1/2 miles (2,400 meters) Japanese Oaks last out.
"She ran 2,000 meters at Tokyo Racecourse in a Group 2 and finished third, so I don't have any issue with the distance," said Toda. "She is very good at racing left-handed, as it is here at Belmont, and that is more important than the distance."
Toda expects Jodie to be prominently placed in the Belmont Oaks, but said she is maturing with every start and that the turn back in distance on Saturday will benefit.
"She's by Daiwa Major, who is a strong, hyper horse and with his babies, everybody likes to go close to the pace with them," said Toda. "She's calmer than that now because she's growing and maturing. In the morning, in her stall, she is very friendly and loves people, but once she goes to train or race she switches on and is ready to work.
"As she has gotten more experience through racing, she has become calmer for racing and training," added Toda. "She is maturing but she is still a young horse. In the Japanese Oaks, there was pressure on her and she was very excited but also the distance was too far. Now she's quite calm."
A probable field of nine for the Belmont Oaks includes Rusty Arnold's multiple graded-stakes winner Concrete Rose; Aidan O'Brien shippers Coral Beach and Just Wonderful; Pascal Bary's French-bred Olendon; recent maiden winner Dyna Passer; and the Chad Brown-trained trio of Cafe Americano, Cambier Parc and the pacey Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Newspaperofrecord.
Toda said he is not committed to setting the pace in the first leg of the Turf Tiara.
"If they want to go in front of us, that's okay. We're comfortable with her racing left handed and she will be able to sit close to the pace. If somebody wants to go, we don't need to go. The key, for her, is the left turn," said Toda.
The Turf Trinity begins with the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational at 10 furlongs as the featured event on a loaded Stars & Stripes Racing Festival card that also includes the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban Handicap, the Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer, and the Grade 2, $300,000 John A. Nerud, a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series race offering a berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Katsumi Yoshizawa's homebred Master Fencer, trained by Koichi Tsunoda, competed in the two-thirds of the Triple Crown with a rail-riding sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and a wide-rallying fifth in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, just a head shy of Tax for fourth.
The Japanese-bred son of Just a Way remained in New York following the Belmont Stakes effort. Previously piloted by Julien Leparoux in North America, Master Fencer was reunited with jockey Suguru Hamanaka on Tuesday morning and has the call in the Belmont Derby.
Hamanaka said he enjoyed the experience this morning training Master Fencer on the inner turf.
"We just had a very light training session today. It was more training for me, as a jockey, as it is my first time here," said Hamanaka via translator Kate Hunter.
Hamanaka has ridden Master Fencer twice in races and won both outings, including a maiden win at Hanshin and an allowance score at Kyoto. Both those victories were on dirt surfaces.
However, Master Fencer made his first two starts on turf finishing second and fourth in maiden races at the 10 furlong distance of the Belmont Derby.
Hamanaka, who last rode Master Fencer competitively in January, said he has noticed a physical change in the chestnut.
"He's gotten bigger and stronger," said Hamanaka. "He's always been a horse that breaks slow and is very far behind everyone else. In the two times I rode him I used that knowledge and started asking him earlier in the race to get him revved up."
Master Fencer is slated to breeze on the dirt Wednesday morning as he continues preparations to square off against a full field of 14 Belmont Derby contenders expected to include O'Brien's raiders Blenheim Palace and Cape of Good Hope; the Brown-trained quartet of Demarchelier, Digital Age, Rockemperor, and Standard Deviation; the Todd Pletcher-conditioned Social Paranoia and Spinoff; as well as English Bee, Henley's Joy, Moon Colony, Plus Que Parfait and Seismic Wave.