2023 Belmont Derby Invitational Contenders

Horse Betting Online

Edited NYRA Press Release
Updated: July 05, 2023

2023 Belmont Derby Invitational Headlined by International The Foxes

International entries The Foxes and Silver Knott take on formidable U.S.-based opponents Kalik and Webslinger in the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, a 1 1/4-mile inner turf test for 3-year-olds, at Belmont Park on Saturday, July 8.

The Belmont Derby is slated as Race 10 on the lucrative 12-race card which also features the Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational for sophomore fillies in Race 8; the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban for older horses going 1 1/4 miles in Race 5; and the Grade 3, $175,000 Victory Ride for sophomore fillies sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs in Race 11. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

King Power Racing's The Foxes arrived at Belmont Park on Friday and cleared quarantine to trot over the dirt training track on Sunday in preparation for his U.S. debut.

2023 Belmont Derby Invitational Field & Odds

Race 10 at Belmont Park on Saturday, July 8 - Post 5:49 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Mendelssohns March 30-1 Dylan Davis
122 Lbs
Kenneth McPeek
2 Boppy O 12-1 Luis Saez
122 Lbs
Mark Casse
3 Cyber Ninja 30-1 Junior Alvarado
122 Lbs
William Mott
4 Webslinger 9-2 Javier Castellano
122 Lbs
Mark Casse
5 Far Bridge 4-1 Jose Ortiz
122 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
6 Silver Knott (GB) 6-1 Richard Mullen
122 Lbs
Charles Appleby
7 Wizard of Westwood 15-1 John Velazquez
122 Lbs
Michael McCarthy
8 Kalik 5-1 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
122 Lbs
Chad Brown
9 Mondego (GB) 20-1 Joel Rosario
122 Lbs
Christophe Clement
10 Redistricting (GB) 8-1 Flavien Prat
122 Lbs
Chad Brown
11 The Foxes (IRE) 7-2 Oisin Murphy
122 Lbs
Andrew Balding

Trained by Andrew Balding, the Churchill bay captured the one-mile Group 2 Royal Lodge in September at Newmarket to close out a two-win juvenile campaign. He made his seasonal debut in April with a runner-up effort to Indestructible in the Group 3 Craven traveling one-mile at Newmarket ahead of a surging neck score over Group 3-winner White Birch in the 1 5/16-mile Group 2 Dante on May 18 at York.

The Foxes arrives off a fifth-place finish in the 12-furlong Group 1 Epsom Derby on June 3 where he stumbled at the break and advanced to third with a furlong to run before flattening.

"He's a high-class horse. He won the Royal Lodge last year and this year he won our main Derby trial at York," Balding said. "He ran a good race in the Derby, but we felt he didn't get the mile and a half. Obviously, the option to drop back to 10 furlongs was attractive. Hopefully, it's a good fit for him.

"It wasn't ideal," added Balding, regarding the troubled start in the Epsom Derby. "But, at the same time, he came more or less from where the winner did so he had every chance, but he didn't finish his race as well as we'd hoped."

The Foxes raced towards the back of the 11-horse Dante field under Oisin Murphy, advancing with a quarter-mile remaining to take the lead at the furlong marker. He angled out across the course nearing the wire to engage his main foes and secured the win with a strong finish.

"He's a horse with a high-cruising speed and travels pretty well," Balding said. "It was a strong Dante this year and he hung across the track a little bit to his right, but I thought he was well on top at the end of the race. It was a high-class performance."

The Foxes, out of the Darshaan mare Tanaghum, is a half-brother to Group 1-winner Matterhorn and multiple group stakes-winner Bangkok, who was trained by Balding and captured the 2019 Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown en route to an off-the-board effort in that year's Epsom Derby. Bred in Ireland by Barronstown Stud, The Foxes was purchased for $629,526 at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.

Balding said The Foxes always demonstrated the markings of a good horse.

"Very much so," Balding concurred. "We trained Bangkok, who was a very smart horse and actually ran in the Derby as well having won one of the trials. He was a very decent horse. The Foxes has a little more size to him and he was a beautiful yearling - as his price would suggest - and he's developed into a really lovely looking 3-year-old."

Balding said the presence of Murphy, who retains the mount from the outermost post 11, is a significant benefit.

"It's a help that Oisin Murphy has ridden him in all three of his starts this year," Balding said. "He knows him well and he's one of our top jockeys. I'm sure he'll try to find him the best passage he can, but the horse travels strongly so he should be able to sit wherever he wants."

Balding said a good result here could see a return trip for The Foxes to the Grade 1, $600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational, a 1 3/16-mile test for sophomores on August 5 at Saratoga Race Course.

"He'll come back here after and the Saratoga race would be an option, but obviously we've got races in Europe as well to consider," Balding said.

Godolphin's dual Group 3-winner Silver Knott [post 6, Richie Mullen], trained by Charlie Appleby, will look to make amends after a troubled third last out in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge won gate-to-wire by Kalik on June 3 over Belmont's inner turf.

With returning rider Richie Mullen up, the Lope de Vega bay was off slow and saved ground before making a late run to finish one length behind Kalik and a head in arrears of runner-up and returning foe Far Bridge.

Silver Knott stayed at Belmont following the Pennine Ridge and has since visited the starting gate multiple times, including a three-eighths work from the gate in 35.65 on June 14 over the main track as well as popping out of the gate again here on Wednesday.

Silver Knott won a pair of Group 3 tests as a 2-year-old, capturing the seven-furlong Solario in August at Sandown Park and the one-mile Autumn in October at Newmarket ahead of a narrow nose defeat to Victoria Road in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Keeneland.

Bred in Great Britain by St Albans Bloodstock, the $1,035,915 purchase from the October 2021 Tattersalls Yearling Sale is the first progeny out of the Group 1-winning Nathaniel mare God Given - a half-sister to four-time Group 1-winning multimillionaire Postponed.

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse will saddle a pair of top contenders in graded-stakes winners Webslinger [post 4, Javier Castellano] and Boppy O [post 2, Luis Saez].

D.J. Stable's Webslinger, by Constitution, showed promise at second asking in August at Saratoga when closing to finish second under Luis Saez in a restricted maiden sprint after being checked hard and losing position.

He followed with a rallying half-length score in the $510,000 Nownownow going one mile in September at Monmouth Park before another difficult outing when 11th - defeated just four lengths - in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

"We ran him in an auction race on the turf at Saratoga and he nearly went through the rail and got back to last, but came running. Saez, when he got off him, said, `this horse can really run,'" recalled Casse. "We ran him as a maiden and he won the half-million dollar race at Monmouth. Nothing went right at the Breeders' Cup, but he was beat four lengths. I came away from that thinking with a better trip, he would have been right there."

Webslinger returned this year as a first-time gelding and has since posted a perfect in-the-money record of 5-3-1-1, including a deep-closing third in the Grade 3 Transylvania in April at Keeneland ahead of close-up efforts at Churchill Downs when victorious in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 American Turf on May 6 and the nine-furlong Audubon on June 3.

"We gelded him and I think that really helped him. He started focusing more," Casse said. "It takes a little while for that mentality to change and make them more focused, but I think that's probably been the biggest part of his turnaround."

Casse also credits Javier Castellano, who captured two-thirds of this year's Triple Crown, with helping the bay learn to be more tactical as the Hall of Fame pilot has guided Webslinger through all five starts this year.

"As Javier has rode him, he understands him a little better. The horse has matured and he is able to be a little closer to the pace," Casse said.

A $50,000 OBS June 2-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale purchase, Webslinger has banked $860,320 through a record of 9-4-2-1.He was bred in Kentucky by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey.

John Oxley and Breeze Easy's Boppy O, by Bolt d'Oro and out of the graded-stakes placed Scat Daddy mare Pappascat, is a half-brother to graded-stakes winning dirt specialist Pappacap.

Boppy O graduated on debut last May over the Gulfstream Park dirt and made the grade at third asking in his turf debut with a neck score in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 With Anticipation on August 31 at the Spa.

"We're always looking for the Derby winner, so you look at dirt as the first possibility," Casse said. "He ran fine on the dirt, but we worked him on the grass prior to his race at Saratoga and I was expecting him to run well on it."

The talented bay has hit the board in 4-of-5 starts this season, entering from a rallying one-length score in the one-mile Jersey Derby on June 3 over Talk of the Nation and third-place Turf King, who exited that event to win the Grade 3 Marine on Sunday at Woodbine. Talk of the Nation is entered in Friday's Grade 3 Manila here for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

"He's had some troubled trips and he's another one that's matured," Casse said. "His last race was really good, beating a good horse of Shug's and ran a good Beyer number [93]. He's a horse on the improve."

The $190,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase was bred in Florida by Rustlewood Farm.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will seek his first Belmont Derby score when he sends out Robert V. LaPenta, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables' Kalik [post 8, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Klaravich Stables' Redistricting [post 10, Flavien Prat].

Kalik, by Collected, is a perfect 3-for-3 this campaign led by a frontrunning score last out in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge where he set splits of 24.69 seconds, 49.17 and 1:13.01 over the firm ground en route to a one length score in a final time of 1:47.85.

Bred in Ontario by Peter A. Berglar Racing Interests and Anderson Farms, Kalik was purchased for $200,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Redistricting, by Kingman, earned an 87 Beyer Speed Figure for his impressive 4 3/4-length debut maiden score here on June 3 traveling 1 1/16-miles over firm turf. With Irad Ortiz, Jr. up., Redistricting settled five lengths off the pace in fifth position before launching his bid three-eighths from home. He made a six-wide run from the top of the lane and stopped the clock in a final time of 1:40.79.

Horse Racing Rebates

The British-bred $199,699 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale purchase is out of the Montjeu mare Cascata - a full-sister to multiple Group 1-winning multimillionaire St Nicholas Abbey, who captured the 2012 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle the late-running Far Bridge [post 5, Jose Ortiz], who sports a record of 4-2-2-0 and has never been further than one length from victory.

The English Channel colt won his first two starts in the care of trainer Christophe Clement traveling 1 1/16-miles over turf at Gulfstream Park. He closed from deep to graduate in January over the well-regarded Carl Spackler ahead of an optional-claiming romp on March 11.

Initially campaigned as a Kentucky homebred for Calumet Farm, he was purchased privately by LSU Stables and transferred to Pletcher, finishing a nose back of Webslinger in the American Turf in May. Last out, Far Bridge was a closing second to Kalik in the Pennine Ridge where he lacked racing room behind horses at the top of the lane.

"He lost position around the turn and then had to weave his way through traffic. He closed well, he just lost critical position," Pletcher said. "He didn't run the turn very well that day and that kind of cost him the position he needed to be within striking range behind a slow pace."

Cheyenne Stable's Mondego [post 9, Joel Rosario] will make his stakes debut for Clement.

Mondego enters with a pair of wins traveling nine furlongs over firm Belmont turf, graduating at third asking with a gate-to-wire score against older company in May ahead of a stalking effort last out on June 2 in an optional-claimer against fellow sophomores.

"It's a bit ambitious, but he's done well. He won his last two. This might be a good time to be ambitious," said Clement, who won this event in 2020 with Gufo. "He's very versatile and I think he can stay the mile and a quarter."

The Lope de Vega bay, bred in Great Britain by Car Colston Hall Stud, is out of the Dansili mare Free Rein, who is a half-sister to multiple Group 1-winner Reckless Abandon.

Trainer Kenny McPeek won this race last year with Classic Causeway, who was dismissed at odds of 26-1, but bested well-backed European stock with a gate-to-wire score over favored Nations Pride and second-choice Stone Age.

McPeek returns with another outside chance in the stakes-placed Mendelssohns March [post 1, Dylan Davis] - a winner via disqualification in his turf debut in February. The Mendelssohn colt won on dirt next up at Oaklawn Park in March before an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April over the Keeneland main track.

Mendelssohns March, bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Corporation, returned to turf for his last two outings when facing the victorious Webslinger, finishing a troubled ninth in the Grade 2 American Turf and a prominent second in the Audubon.

The $110,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is out of the Galileo mare Unappeased, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Sligo Bay.

Andrew N. Warren and Rania Warren's Wizard of Westwood [post 7, John Velazquez] travels outside of California for the first time for trainer Michael McCarthy.

The Tu Brutus colt, a $20,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, captured the 10-furlong Cinema in gate-to-wire fashion last out on June 11 at Santa Anita.

Wizard of Westwood, sporting a perfect in-the-money record of 5-2-2-1, is out of the Purge mare Figrare, who is a half-sister to millionaire Japanese graded stakes winner Danon Legend. His third dam, Caressing, produced West Coast, who took the 2017 Grade 1 Travers en route to honors as that year's Champion 3-Year-Old Colt.

Rounding out a talented field is George Krikorian's Kentucky homebred Cyber Ninja [post 3, Junior Alvarado], a last-out maiden winner traveling 11 furlongs over turf here for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The Arrogate colt is out of the graded-stakes placed Kitten's Joy mare Famous Alice, who is a half-sister to Venezuelan-bred millionaire Piacenza.

Trainer Kenny McPeek Looking to Upset Belmont Derby Again

Mendelssohns March, a stakes-placed horse owned by Harold Lerner, Nehoc Stables, AWC Stables and Team Stallion Racing Stable's, will be upset minded in the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, a 10-furlong inner turf test for sophomores on Saturday, July 8 at Belmont Park in New York.

Trainer Kenny McPeek won this event last year with 26-1 shot Classic Causeway, who posted a gate-to-wire score over favored Nations Pride and second-choice Stone Age. This year, he returns with the improving Mendelssohns March, who enters from a close runner-up effort to returning rival Webslinger in the nine-furlong Audubon on June 3 at Churchill Downs.

The Mendelssohn colt graduated on debut in February via disqualification traveling one-mile over firm Fair Grounds turf. He made his next two starts on dirt, winning an optional-claimer at Oaklawn in March over sloppy and sealed conditions before finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland. Mendelssohns March returned to grass in May and finished ninth in the Grade 2 American Turf when defeated 4 3/4-lengths by Webslinger.

"He's coming off a really good run. We know it's a tough race, but we think he's going to like the added distance," McPeek said. "He's acting like he's quite ratable. He started his career really well, 2-for-2. This is an ambitious spot for him, we realize that, but you're not going to get many opportunities to run a mile and a quarter."

The $110,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is out of the Galileo mare Unappeased, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Sligo Bay.

Greyhound Betting

"He's a beautiful moving horse," McPeek said. "I bought him as a yearling and with a Galileo mare, how can you go wrong with that. I really thought he was one of my top 3-year-olds and this is an opportunity to prove himself at a high level."

McPeek said Mendelssohns March, who will exit the inside post Saturday under Dylan Davis, has trained very well upstate at Saratoga Race Course over the Oklahoma trainer turf, working in company with Walking L Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's promising filly Freydis the Red.

The French-bred daughter of Saxon Warrior will make her stakes debut in Saturday's co-featured Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational.

The 10-furlong inner turf test for sophomore fillies kicks off the Fasig-Tipton Fillies Turf Triple series, which is followed by the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3, $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course and the Grade 3, $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Jockey Club Oaks Invitational on September 16 going 11 furlongs at Belmont at the Big A.

Freydis the Red completed the exacta on three occasions before breaking through last out at sixth asking on May 29 in a nine-furlong maiden special weight over firm Churchill turf. The 4 1/4-length score garnered a career-best 79 Beyer Speed Figure.

"I think she's a filly that's getting ready to move forward and I think she's another one we'd like to try at a mile and a quarter," McPeek said. "The expectations are high for her. She ran really fast in her last race and if she can replicate that and maybe move a little bit forward off the added distance - obviously black type is important - to get her Grade 1-placed would be a big deal."

McPeek purchased the chestnut, out of the Shirocco mare Songerie, for $147,403 from the Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale.

"She was a real standout as a yearling," McPeek said. "She was a little unlucky trying to get her maiden broke last year. But she really put it together in her last race."

The late-running chestnut will exit post 8 under Junior Alvarado.

McPeek sent out a pair of multiple graded-stakes winning starters for Lucky Seven Stable in Saturday's Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Ellis Park with Rattle N Roll [2nd] and Smile Happy [5th] performing admirably in the nine-furlong route won by West Will Power.

"They both came out of it fine," McPeek said. "Smile Happy wasn't very cooperative going to the gate. We may try blindfolding him going to the starting gate next time, but he's historically been tough to deal with. Rattle N Roll is a consummate professional."

Rattle N Roll, a 4-year-old Connect colt, captured the 2021 Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland as a juvenile. He entered the Stephen Foster on a three-race win streak in Grade 3 events, taking the 1 3/16-mile Ben Ali in April at Keeneland, the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special in May and the nine-furlong Blame in June at Churchill.

He rallied from seventh in the Stephen Foster to finish a half-length in arrears of the winner, while earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure - his fifth consecutive triple-digit figure.

Smile Happy, a 4-year-old Runhappy colt, made the grade at second asking in the 2021 Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. He entered the Foster from a sharp score in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Alysheba in May at Churchill Downs, besting multiple Grade 1-winner Art Collector by two lengths with West Will Power in third.

McPeek said both horses will be nominated to the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney, a nine-furlong rest for older horses on August 5 at Saratoga Race Course which offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park.

Saturday, July 8

G1 Belmont Derby Invitational

Probable: Boppy O (Casse), Far Bridge (Pletcher), Kalik (Brown), Mendelssohns March (McPeek), Mondego (Clement), Silver Knott (Charlie Appleby), The Foxes (Andrew Balding), Webslinger (Casse)

Possible: Cyber Ninja (Mott), Redistricting (Brown)

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Pre-Draw News

Silver Knott breezes for 2023 Belmont Derby Invitational

JUNE 30 - Godolphin's dual Group 3-winner Silver Knott, trained by Charlie Appleby, breezed five furlongs 1:00.04 Friday over the Belmont inner turf in preparation for next Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, a 10-furlong test for sophomores.

Richie Mullen, who guided the Lope de Vega bay to a closing third-place finish last out in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge here, said he was pleased with the work over the firm going.

"He went good. The turf track is riding well," Mullen said. "There's a great cover of grass and it's good, fast racing ground. There's no jar in it at all because there's a nice cover. For a Lope de Vega, you'd think he'd want a bit of ease in the ground but he actually doesn't handle it. He has tiny little feet and he handles fast conditions, so he's taking a liking to it."

Silver Knott was away last-of-7 in the Pennine Ridge, which provided the top-three finishers an automatic invite to the Belmont Derby Invitational. He saved ground in fifth position as the Irad Ortiz, Jr.-piloted Kalik set the tempo through splits of 24.69 seconds, 49.17 and 1:13.01 over the firm ground. Silver Knott was given his cue at the five-sixteenths and traveled four-wide at the top of the lane while making up good ground to finish to finish one length back of the victorious Kalik [1:47.85] and a head in arrears of runner-up Far Bridge.

"He didn't break badly, but just not as sharp as the local horses. He was two lengths further back from where you want to be," Mullen said. "Ideally, I'd be right behind Irad the last day, but you're just that stride below and it's one of those things where you have to sit there and hope that it happens for you. With him, when you're away that bit slow and you put the squeeze on him, he can get a bit gassy early on. I think the ideal thing is to get him to break and not necessarily be on the front end, but it's more of a benefit when they break and you can stick him where you want him."

Silver Knott breezed back three-eighths from the gate in 35.65 on June 14 over the main track and popped out of the gate again here on Wednesday.

"Every little bit helps and if we can iron out those little things it gives you a slight advantage," Mullen said. "He's come forward and hopefully that puts him in the mix. Obviously, this will be a little bit stronger field than the Pennine Ridge."

The probable field for the Belmont Derby includes Boppy O (Mark Casse), Far Bridge (Todd Pletcher), Kalik (Chad Brown), Mendelssohns March (Kenneth McPeek), Mondego (Christophe Clement), The Foxes (Andrew Balding) and Webslinger (Casse). Among the possible contenders are Cyber Ninja (Bill Mott) and Redistricting (Brown).

Others on the inner turf work tab Friday included nine horses that worked five-eighths from the barn of trainer Chad Brown, including In Italian, who went solo in 1:01.03.

Belmont Derby possible Redistricting worked in company with Activist Investing in 1:01.12. Belmont Derby probable Kalik and Grade 3 Manila chance Belouni went together in 1:00.61.

Grade 1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks hopeful Aspray and Royalty Interestwent together through five-eighths in 1:00.71, while McKulick and Virginia Joy went in company in 1:01.82.

The Brown-trained Consumer Spending and Gina Romantica partnered up for a half-mile breeze in 50.07.

Trainer Christophe Clement sent out five horses to breeze a half-mile over the inner turf, including Soldier Rising and Amazing Grace who went together in 49.72; Belmont Derby contender Mondego worked with Messidor in 49.56; and Malavath worked solo in 49.06.

Brad Cox sent out Bubble Rock for a solo half-mile work in 48.57, while Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey sent out four solo half-mile workers in Allamericanbeauty [50.06], Dreams of Tomorrow [48.28], Personal Best[53.12] and Skims [46.98].

2023 Belmont Derby (G1) contender The Foxes arrives from Europe

JUNE 30 - King Power Racing's Group 2 Dante-winner The Foxes arrived at Belmont Park on Friday morning to prepare for next Saturday's 10-furlong Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational for 3-year-olds.

Trained by Andrew Balding, the Churchill bay was a neck winner of the 1 5/16-mile Dante on May 18 at York ahead of a last-out fifth in the 12-furlong Group 1 Epsom Derby on June 3.

"He's absolutely fine. He dragged me into the stable and dragged me to some food. He's chilled out now and seems really happy at the moment," said Maddy O'Meara, traveling assistant for Balding.

O'Meara said The Foxes, who shipped from England to Belgium before the flight to New York, should appreciate turning back in distance.

"It was a great effort in the Dante and sadly he just didn't stay in the Derby. Dropping him back in trip, he should go well," O'Meara said.