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Race of the Week: Belmont Derby Invitational | Saturday, July 9, 2022

by Jeremy Plonk

July 7, 2022

The Lead:
An international cast of 3-year-old turfers converge for Saturday's featured $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational. It's the marquee race on a 4-stakes Belmont Park card that includes the Belmont Oaks Invitational, Suburban and Victory Ride. The Belmont Derby Invitational inaugurated in 2014 after previous editions run as the Jamaica Handicap. In the 8 editions held since then, the Americans have visited the winner's circle 6 times.

Horseplayers on the 1/ST BET app and at Xpressbet will play for an additional $6,000 in bonus winnings in the late pick 5 wager as part of the $100,000 July Hit & Split promotions. Take down the Belmont late pick 5 Saturday and collect your parimutuel winnings plus your share of $6,000 additional split among fellow winning players at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet.

Field Depth:
STOLEN BASE, CLASSIC CAUSEWAY, ROYAL PATRONAGE, TIZ THE BOMB and EMMANUEL are Grade 2 / Group 2 winners. GRAND SONATA, SY DOG and STONE AGE have won at the Grade 3 / Group 3 level, with the latter Group 1-placed. ROYAL PATRONAGE and STONE AGE have the strongest international company lines in terms of class, while the Americans have matched up similarly competitive slates amongst several of them.

At 1-1/4 miles on turf, you'd expect things rather pedestrian. But dirt speedsters CLASSIC CAUSEWAY and EMMANUEL are an obvious cut above the rest in terms of early activity. They should ensure a tempo that discourages those chasing closest up and gives the mid-pack and finishers a great target.

Our Eyes:
Five Europeans make up the diverse cast, including the oft-matched Godolphin and Coolmore characters, this time NATIONS PRIDE and STONE AGE, respectively. They were eighth and sixth in the Group 1 Epson Derby over a quarter-mile farther last time while both backed in single-digits odds in the 17-horse English classic.​ Both had blowout winning streaks snapped in that one and should find the cozy, 122-pound assignments and competition to their liking after toting 128 over 12 furlongs. STONE AGE looks like a pure mile and one-quarter sort, and trainer Aidan O'Brien won this in 2016 and again last year with Bolshoi Ballet. That Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore make the trip on this pair shows the international quality. Also from overseas, ROYAL PATRONAGE also drops out of the Epsom Derby, but was16th there at 28-1 (he'll get Joel Rosario aboard); MACHETE split the field at 39-1 in the Group 1 French Derby last out and should love the distance; IMPLEMENTATION chased MACHETE twice in France and now will be joined by veteran Belmont star rider John Velazquez.

The eight Americans feature common opponents who've traded punches and success in TIZ THE BOMB, SY DOG, STOLEN BASE and GRAND SONATA. Then you add in the 1-2-3 finishers in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge local prep -- EMMANUEL, NAPOLEONIC WAR and LIMITED LIABILITY. The 'fresh face' to the division is mercurial dirt performer CLASSIC CAUSEWAY, third two weeks ago in the Ohio Derby and never tested on grass, though sired by turfer Giant's Causeway. From that aforementioned common quartet re-matched, GRAND SONATA and TIZ THE BOMB may want more distance the most. Of the Pennine Ridge trio, LIMITED LIABILITY may be most equipped for the extra distance based on pedigree and running style.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
STONE AGE is 3: 2-1-0 at the Belmont Derby Invitational distance and has a class edge for a jockey-trainer combo defending its title in this race.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
LIMITED LIABILITY could rally for a piece as an overlooked American looking for his first stakes win.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$100 win STONE AGE.