ELMONT, N.Y. - Eight 3-year-olds will step into the starting gate on Saturday at Belmont Park hoping to kick-start the second half of the season with a standout performance in the Grade 3, $500,000 Dwyer on Stars & Stripes Day.
The one-mile Dwyer is one of six graded stakes on the card, which is highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational for 3-year-old turf horses and the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old turf fillies, both at 1 ¼ miles. Also Saturday are the 130th running of the venerable Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap and a pair of Grade 3 races: the $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs and the $150,000 Victory Ride for 3-year-old fillies going 6 ½ furlongs.
Headlining the Dwyer, which is being run for the 99th time, are Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Economic Model, winner of the Easy Goer on Belmont Stakes Day and Big Chief Racing's Swipe, who was third facing older horses last time out off a two-month layoff.
Trained by Chad Brown, Economic Model notched a field-high 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer, in which he overcame traffic to post a 1 ½-length victory in 1:40. Prior to that, the bay son of Flatter rolled to an easy four-length win in a one-mile optional claimer, eight weeks after a disappointing ninth-place outing in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.
"The only blemish of his career, really, was in Tampa," said Brown of Economic Model, who broke his maiden at Saratoga Race Course last August in his first start and finished second in the Grade 2 Swale next out to start his 2016 campaign. "He's been training well since the Easy Goer, and the Dwyer seems like the next logical spot for him. If he runs well, we could look at running back in Saratoga." Economic Model drew post position 6 and will again have the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Swipe has made two previous appearances at Belmont, finishing third in last year's Tremont while still a maiden and making a late run to gain third in a six-furlong allowance on June 26. In his only other start as a 3-year-old, the Birdstone colt finished sixth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland in April.
"He's good," said Julie Clark, assistant to trainer Keith Desoremaux, of Swipe. "His last race didn't take anything out of him. He slept the next morning, which is his normal routine anyway. He's been training really fantastic."
Swipe drew post position 7 and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux.
Joining the fray will be the Bret Calhoun-trained Fish Trappe Road, a 25-1 runner-up to Tom's Ready in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day. The New York-bred son of Trappe Shot broke his maiden facing state-breds last September, and also finished second in the Sleepy Hollow on Empire Showcase Day the following month.
Luis Saez will ride the Martin Racing Stable color-bearer from post position 8. Also returning from the Woody Stephens is Charles Fipke's Tale of S'avall, who finished sixth. The Tale of Ekati colt, whose lone career win came in a maiden race at the Spa last August, will be making his sixth straight stakes appearance for trainer Barclay Tagg.
Manny Franco has the mount aboard Tale of S'Avall, who drew post position 2. Rounding out the field are The Great Whiteway, making his stakes debut after finishing first or second in all seven starts this year; Voluntario, second in the Sir Barton at Pimlico and winner of an optional claimer there last out; Grade 3 Gotham runner-up Laoban, who followed that effort with a fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass and a sixth in the Grade 1 Preakness; and Unbridled Outlaw, most recently second in a one-mile optional claimer at Churchill Downs.