A field of nine will compete in the inaugural running of the $1 million dollar Jockey Club Derby Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday. The turf race for three year-olds also offers a starting berth in the 4 million dollar Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park on November 2nd as part of the Win & You’re In series.
Here then is a brief look at the field:
1. A THREAD OF BLUE [ML 4-1] Jockey: Luis Saez. Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin. Grade 3 Winner led throughout in a convincing tally in the Saratoga Derby last out. This son of HARD SPUN is the pace of the race and also gets the rail in his debut at 12 furlongs. Kentucky-bred rates a big chance with any improvement off of his latest venture.
2. CURRENT [ML 15-1] Jockey: Junior Alvarado. Trainer: Todd Pletcher. This Grade 3 Victor prepped for this assignment with a runner-up showing in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park in his last out. He is Win-less since 2018, but he could appreciate the added distance here in a first turf run longer than 1 1/16 miles.
3. HENLEY’S JOY [ML 5-1] Jockey: Jose Lezcano. Trainer: Michael Maker. The Belmont Derby (G1) star made a belated run to be 5th in the recent Saratoga Derby. He has shown improvement since stretching out in distance and has an obvious affinity for the Belmont lawn.
4. PEDRO CARA [ML 12-1] Jockey: Tony Piccone. Trainer: Mauricio Delcher. This French import is the wildcard in the field having run with lesser competition, and being from relatively obscure connections. The gelding has Won three of his last four, however, and he will run with Lasix for the initial time. His regular rider, Tony Piccone, will be aboard for their U.S. debut.
5. SAN HUBERTO [ML 10-1] Jockey: Flavien Pratt. Trainer: Fabrice Chappet. This Irish-bred and French-based colt has been sharp this campaign and enters with Wins in three of his last four outings. He ran 5th in his lone run at a similar level, but hails from excellent connections and rates a big chance on this side of the pond.
6. TONE BROKE [ML 10-1] Jockey: John Velazquez. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. The Ontario-bred comes in after taking the final two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. Talented and versatile he was Victorious in his turf debut at Woodbine most recently, and has never been better in anticipation of this lucrative event. Inheriting top jockey Johnny V. lends more credibility to this Win contender.
7. KADAR [ML 15-1] Jockey: Manuel Franco. Trainer: Michael Maker. Has yet to break through with a signature Win, but he has a chance on Saturday in his initial try at 1 1/2 miles. He made up some ground when finishing 7th in the Saratoga Derby last out and could peak here making his third run since coming to the United States.
8. DIGITAL AGE [ML 5-2] Jockey: Javier Castellano. Trainer: Chad Brown. He is consistently very good, and had an ideal prep for this finishing 2nd in the Saratoga Derby most recently. Likely to be the Post Time favorite, he has never run a bad race. Indicates he will appreciate going 12 furlongs at Belmont Park. The late-running colt could be moving best of all down the stretch.
9. SPANISH MISSION [ML 3-1] Jockey: Jamie Spencer. Trainer: David Simcock. Talented Grade 3 Winner draws outside and rates a big Winning chance if he carries his European form to the race. He is a couple of head-bobs from being unbeaten on the turf in his lifetime, and it’s a very positive sign that jockey Jamie Spencer comes along to guide him in his stateside debut.
Summary: #8 DIGITAL AGE will be tough to beat. Chad Brown horses on turf are often automatic for the Win, but with odds of 9-5 or less the Daily Racing Blog will look elsewhere. If we can get #9 SPANISH MISSION at 5-2 or better he is our key horse in the top spot. The best Value in a Win contender comes from #5 SAN HUBERTO at 10-1. Another pair of Live-Longshots we like are #4 PEDRO CARA, and #6 TONE BROKE.
The Play: DRB will do a Trifecta Key using both the 9, and 5 on top of the 1-4-6-8. As well as an Exacta Box with 4-5-8-9, and Win bets on 4-5-6.
Good luck no matter how you play it.