Midlantic runners on Belmont Friday
Always Sunshine won the Maryland Sprint Handicap. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
by Frank Vespe
Your guide to Midlantic runners in Belmont Park Stakes:
$150,000 Rags to Riches Invitational (fillies and mares, 4yo and up, 1 1/2 miles)
- John Servis trainee Joint Return (7-2) tackles a small field of six in this 12-furlong marathon. The Parx-based Include mare most recently ran third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 3 Du Pont Distaff at Pimlico, her second straight in the money. She has won five of 22 career starts and now has earnings of over $500,000. Regular pilot Kendrick Carmouche will do the honors.
$200,000 Tremont Stakes (2yo, 5 1/2 furlongs)
- Tom Proctor trainee Is Everybody Happy (5-1) broke his maiden by 3 1/2 lengths at first asking May 25 at his Delaware Park base. The son of Maclean’s Music was under “only mild urging,” according to the chart, and will have Brian Pedroza up in his first try against winners.
- Pachi Cruze (6-1) won at first asking at Laurel Park in April for trainer Jose Corrales, rallying to win by 3/4 of a length. The son of Valid N Bold will have Angel Cruz in the irons.
$150,000 Jersey Girl Stakes (3yo fillies, 6 furlongs)
- Monmouth Park-based Quick Release (10-1) most recently ran a good third in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. The speedy daughter of Trappe Shot, trained by Mike Dini, has won two of five and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
Grade 2, $250,000 True North Stakes (4yo and up, 6 furlongs)
- Jorge Navarro trainee Catalina Red (2-1), now based at Monmouth Park, won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs last out and carries a two-race winning streak into this event. The four-year-old Munnings colt has won five of 10 starts and earned just shy of $470,000. Javier Castellano will ride.
- Always Sunshine (7-2) has finished worse than third just once in 11 career starts and enters this with a two-race winning streak, including an easy win as the favorite last out in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap. The Ned Allard trainee, based at Parx, will have regular rider Frankie Pennington along for the ride.
$300,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational (4yo and up, 2 miles on the turf)
- Jonathan Sheppard trainee Rum Tum Tugger (20-1) has done his best running at longer-than-normal distances and will hope that translates to this lengthy event; his career-best Beyer came at 1 5/8 miles, and he owns wins at 1 3/8 miles and 1 1/2 miles, the last of which came last out in the Secretariat at Great Meadow. The Fair Hill-based runner will have Alex Cintron up and owns five wins from 26 career starts.
- Silver Lime (30-1) narrowly missed last out against Rum Tum Tugger, finishing second by 3/4 of a length. The Fair Hill-based Mizzen Mast gelding is trained by Janet Elliot and will have Manny Franco up.
- James Lawrence trainee My Afleet (30-1) ran fifth last out against allowance foes at Laurel in his first start in a year. The Afleet Alex gelding has won three of 11 career starts, including a Kentucky Downs stake victory at 1 5/16 miles, and has career earnings of over $270,000. The Fair Hill-based runner will have Edgar Prado up.