Toast of New York appropriately headlines inaugural Belmont Derby

December 10, 2019

ELMONT, N.Y. - Toast of New York will look to become just that when he attempts to win the first running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby on Saturday at Belmont Park.

The 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby is the centerpiece of the newly fashioned Stars & Stripes Day, which also features the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks, as well as the Grade 2 Suburban, Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship, and Grade 3 Dwyer.

Toast of New York, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, rose to prominence last year at the lesser known British track Wolverhampton, where he won a pair of races over the local synthetic surface by a combined 28 lengths. Trainer Jamie Osborne and owner Mike Buckley, emboldened by those efforts, shipped the bay colt to Dubai to compete in the Group 2 UAE Derby. Despite not having raced in nearly five months and tackling stakes competition for the first time, Toast of New York won by an authoritative 2 ½ lengths.

"He looks fantastic and he's been eating and drinking well since shipping [to New York]," said Osborne, who arrived at Belmont early Wednesday evening. "We gave him a little bit of a break after his trip to Dubai and he's come back well. We're going slightly into unknown territory with him since his best races have come over synthetic surfaces, but he trains on turf and moves well over it, so I don't foresee it being a problem."

Jamie Spencer, who rode Toast of New York to victory in the UAE Derby, has the mount again, and the pair will break from the rail.

Toast of New York's main competition may come from French invader Gailo Chop. Trained by Antoine De Watrigant for OTI Racing, Gailo Chop enters the Belmont Derby on a four race winning streak that includes a pair of Group 3 races in France and two wins at the Derby's 1 ¼-mile distance.

"There are a number of factors [why Gailo Chop is running in the Belmont Derby]," said Terry Henderson, one of OTI's co-founders. "No. 1, he couldn't start in the classics in France because he's a gelding. Second, the race was suggested to us by a pair of people we respect: [trainer] Christophe Clement and Emmanuel de Seroux. Third, the purse being paid out got our attention. Put it this way, if the race was worth what it was worth last year [$500,000 as the Jamaica Handicap in October], we wouldn't be considering the race."

Regular rider Julien Auge will be aboard Gailo Chop, 5-1 on the morning line, and the duo will depart from post 7.

Globetrotting trainer Aidan O'Brien will send out Adelaide, who has a Group 3 win to his credit to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes in Group 2 races. The Ireland-based colt's most recent outing came in the Group 2, 1 ½-mile King Edward VII at Royal Ascot, in which he finished second, 3 ¼ lengths behind Eagle Top.

"Adelaide is a lovely colt," said O'Brien, who trains Adelaide for Derrick Smith. "He's a very good mover with a great temperament, like many of the Galileo's. He's only run four times to date but has improved with every start and hopefully he'll do so again. He travels well in his races so I'd be hopeful of a big run."

Adelaide will be ridden by Colm O'Donoghue from post 4, and is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.

Bobby's Kitten, trained by Chad Brown for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, will try to go 1 ¼ miles for the first time in his career on Saturday. In 2013, the bay colt won the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont by 6 ¼ lengths, an effort that landed him the role of favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, in which he finished third. The son of Kitten's Joy won his 2014 debut, then subsequently finished 12th in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland before returning to form in the Penn Mile, which he won by 2 ¾ lengths.

"He's coming into the race good so far," said Brown. "He came out of the Penn Mile well and he's had three breezes since. The distance is a question mark, but he's bred to do it. If he relaxes and Javier [Castellano] gives him a good trip, he should be able to get the extra distance."

Bobby's Kitten will break from post 3 with Javier Castellano in the irons, and sits at 6-1 on the morning line.

Mr Speaker, who will go out for trainer Shug McGaughey and Phipps Stable, will look to rebound after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Pennine Ridge at Belmont, the local prep for the Belmont Derby.

"He's training well right now," said McGaughey. "He didn't act like he had running on his mind in the paddock [prior to the Pennine Ridge] and he went to the post that way. His running style was not conducive to what he wants to do, being on the lead shadowed by a 50-1 shot. The whole thing was a disaster."

Prior to the Pennine Ridge, Mr Speaker won the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park. He also finished a fast-closing second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream after encountering some early trouble in the race.

Jose Lezcano has the mount on Mr Speaker, 15-1 on the morning line, and the pair will break from post 9.

Australian powerhouse trainer Gai Waterhouse, making her first foray into American racing, will saddle Pornichet. The son of Vespone finished third in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains in France in his most recent outing, while in the barn of former trainer Nicolas Clement.

Pornichet, owned by Jean Lebrun, rests at 10-1 on the morning line, and will break from post 8 with Jose Ortiz aboard.

Rounding out the field are Dance With Fate, who captured the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland before enduring a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby in his last start; Gala Award and Flamboyant, who finished 1-2 in the Pennine Ridge; Global View, who finished second to Bobby's Kitten in the Penn Mile in his latest outing; and Sheldon, a recent maiden winner for trainer Jimmy Toner.

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