Midlantic-breds in Belmont Stakes day stakes

There will be plenty of opportunity for Midlantic bred runners on Saturday, June 11 at Belmont Park as the Belmont Stakes undercard features eight graded races. 

In the third, the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes for three-year-old fillies, we have the Graham Motion trainee Divine Huntress who comes off a fourth place finish in the Black Eyed Susan three weeks back at Pimlico. This Maryland-bred filly has morning line odds of 12-1 in just a five-horse field, and looks for her first stakes win with a new rider in Luis Saez.

By Divining Rod-Thrill Seeker, by Housebuster, Divine Huntress has struggled in her step up into graded company, but improved her finishing position in each try, holding on for fourth last time out at Pimlico.

A win here would be huge for owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Long Valley Stables, LLC, Eclipse having bought in after this miss’s maiden score. Even if winning chances might be difficult here, hitting the board in a grade I would show the continued growth of this sophomore as she takes the next step in her racing career. Divine Huntress was bred by Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Ricky L. Buckley & Joshua Dreiband.

The ninth race on the card is the Grade I Met Mile for three year olds and up with a purse of $1,000,000. In recent years, sprinting horses have run the Met Mile and fared well despite pushing past their preferred distance, as the Belmont dirt track is only one turn for a mile.

Trainer Wayne Catalano opts to run Aloha West in this similarly small five-horse field, which will mark his horse’s first race past seven furlongs. Aloha West came off a long layoff from his Breeder’s Cup Sprint upset victory to finish third in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby day. While he didn’t run poorly that day, he was never able to gain ground on the even-money favorite Jackie’s Warrior, who returned to win the Grade 2 True North June 10.

Perhaps jockey Jose Ortiz will position Aloha West a little closer to the leaders with this stretch in distance. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners also owns this five-year-old. A $160,000 auction purchase as a yearling, Aloha West didn’t make the races until February of his four-year-old season, but by the end of that year, he was a Breeders’ Cup winner.

Aloha West will need to step up, but if Flighline and Speaker’s Corner heat up the pace, he should be closing late at odds of 6-1. Aloha West was bred in Maryland by the late Robert T. Manfuso & Katharine M. Voss and is by Hard Spun-Island Bound, by Speightstown.

  • Aloha West was up in time to upset the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Photo Shamela Hanley/Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM.