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2014 Belmont Derby, Belmont Oaks, and Belmont Sprint Championship

Mr. Speaker takes his walk down Victory Lane after the 2014 Belmont Derby Invitational

Suburban Hcp. and Dwyer - also on the card

Date: 07/05/2014

The revamped Belmont Park stakes schedule moved three long-time fixtures to Independence Day weekend, under new names. Conditions were excellent on Long Island, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80's for the 11,118 fans in attendance. The highlight race of the afternoon was the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitatational (G1), formerly the Jamaica, for 3-year-olds going 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf course. Adelaide was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 10 off his second place finish in the King Edward VII Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot. In to challenge him included 4-1 second choice Bobby's Kitten, winner of the Penn Mile at Penn National, and 9-2 third choice Toast of New York, unraced since winning the UAE Derby (G2) on Dubai World Cup night.

The horses break from the gate for the Belmont Derby

Jockey Jose Ortiz sent 20-1 Pornichet to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.65, 48.43, 1:12.65, and 1:37.10 over the good course while stalked by 15-1 Gala Award and Bobby's Kitten. Entering the stretch, Adelaide, who raced in fourth early, moved up to gain a short lead as the frontrunners tired. However 23-1 Mr. Speaker, 10th early and saving ground around both turns, came through on the hedge to win by a neck in 2:01.18. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to 19-1 Flamboyant third.

Pgm  Horse            Jockey         Win  Place  Show
 9   Mr. Speaker      Lezcano      49.00  18.20 10.80
 4   Adelaide         O'Donoghue           4.40  3.20
 5   Flamboyant       Rosario                    7.40

Winning Time:  2:01.18

$2 Exacta 9-4               288.50
$2 Trifecta 9-4-5         3,810.00
$2 Superfecta 9-4-5-7    24,591.00
Results Chart

Left: Mr. Speaker in the winner's circle with owner Dinny Phipps (using cane). Winning trainer Shug McGaughey said, "I had a concrete reason (to dismiss his last race) but you always have your doubts. Does he belong in the top layer of horses or not? I think today he proved he does. My confidence was shaken a little bit; he was a different horse (before the Pennine Ridge), it was like he had never been in the paddock before. He went to the post and was looking up into the crowd. But today, he was an entirely different horse. I thought we were fine. I was keying on the horses that were second and third; I wasn't worried about the horse in front. I thought he was going to fire today; it was just a matter of if he's good enough."

Right: Mr. Speaker enters the paddock before the race. Jockey Jose Lezcano said, "I got a perfect trip. We broke, and I got the position I wanted. I let him settle. Last time, he was a little aggressive. It was a five-horse field, he broke, and no one wanted to go, so he took the lead. Today, on the backside, I made a little move to try and hold my position. Then I followed a horse I saw running; I think I followed the right horse (Adelaide)."

Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Adelaide returns after the race. T.J. Comerford, assistant to trainer Aidan O'Brien said, "He ran well. Colm is happy with him, and Aidan is happy with him. He ran a good race." Jockey Colm O'Donoghue added, "I had a trouble-free trip. He sat beautifully and ran strong the last two furlongs."

Right: Third place finisher Flamboyant in the paddock. The 19-1 shot raced 7th under Joel Rosario, then rallied late to get third beaten 3 3/4 lengths. The Patrick Gallagher trainer improved his record to 3 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds in 9 starts, earning $257,788 for owners David Bienstock and Charles Winner.

Minorette wins the Belmont Oaks Invitational
The $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) featured a field of 10 three-year-old fillies also going 1 1/4 miles in the inner turf. Formerly run as the Garden City, it is also a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race in the Filly and Mare Turf division. Room Service was sent off as the 5-2 favorite off her three race win streak including the Herecomesthebride (G3), Ashland (G1), and American Oaks (G1). In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice Xcellence, third in the Prix de Diane (G1) at Chantilly, and 5-1 third choice Flying Jib, winer of the Athasi Stakes (G3) at the Curragh.

9-1 Sea Queen set fractions of 24.87, 50.14, 1:14.57, and 1:38.02 while stalked by 20-1 Wonderfully and 6-1 Minorette. With a furlong to go, Sea Queen stubbornly held on to the lead, but Minorette kicked into gear, taking over at the 1/16 pole and drawing off to win by 2 lengths in 2:01.64. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to 34-1 longest shot Summer Solo fourth, while favorite Room Service failed to fire and finished 7th.

Results Chart

Left: Minorette in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Chad Brown said, "The more I got to train her, even before we first ran her, she just moved and looked like a 1 1/4 mile horse. Her pedigree wouldn't deter you from that, either. We just took our time with her. I tell you, the Coolmore group, wonderful organization to train for. They never told me where to run, when to run. 'It's a nice filly we're giving you, and just give us some feedback.' After the race at Keeneland at a mile when she was closing pretty good and got a good number out of the race, I immediately circled this big one and said, 'Let's just go for it.'

Right: Minorette takes her walk down Victory Lane. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "She moves like she wanted to go longer. Last time, I moved a little early to take the lead and she waited a little bit. This time I wanted to be a little closer because it looked like there wasn't a lot of speed. I could see [Sea Queen] on the outside and wanted to keep an eye on her, and I didn't want to move early. When she took the lead she just kept on going."

Left: Second place finisher Sea Queen returns after the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "It looked like there wasn't a lot of speed, and Christophe (Clement, trainer) told me, 'See how she breaks, and if she's on the lead easy, it's OK. And if not, go wherever you are comfortable.' I'm very happy with her. We tried hard."

Right: Third place finisher Summer Solo in the paddock before the race. Trainer Christophe Clement said, "Both fillies ran very well; they were second- and third- best. It was fun to have a top class 1 1/4 mile race for 3-year-old fillies at this time of the year. Summer Solo ran great. I knew she was going to run a good race; she's trained so well. She's a very nice New York-bred."

Seventh place finisher and beaten favorite Room Service in the paddock before the race. The 5-2 choice was last early under Shaun Bridgmohan, came out for room into the lane but failed to rally, finishing 7th beaten 7 1/4 lengths. The Wayne Catalano trainee has a record of 4 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 8 starts, earning $571,565 for owner-breeder Gary and Mary West.

Clearly Now wins the Belmont Sprint Championship
The $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3), formerly known as the James Marvin Stakes, featured a field of 9 older horses going 7 furlongs on the main track. Clearly Now, fifth in the Metropolitan (G1) last out, was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 3-1 Central Banker, winner of the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1), and 4-1 Palace, winner of the True North (G2).

17-1 Moonlight Song set the pace of 22.75 and 45.55 over the fast track while stalked by 8-1 Dads Caps and favorite Clearly Now. Entering the stretch, Clearly Now came out for room and took over at the 1/8 pole through 6f in 1:08.33. Kept to task by jockey Jose Lezcano, he powered away to a 6 1/4 length win over Palace in a new track record time of 1:19.96, 0.21 seconds faster than the previous record set by Left Bank in 2002. It was just a neck back to 9-1 Salutos Amigos third.

Results Chart

Left: Clearly Now in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brian Lynch said, "When he broke a little slow I thought, 'Oh boy, here we go again,' but when he cruised up on the inside near the 4 1/2 pole I could tell Jose had a lot of horse. He had a legitimate pace in front of him, so it was just about finding a hole, and when it came, he went by them. We'll look at some spots at Saratoga, and ultimately, the Breeders' Cup would be in play."

Right: Clearly Now heads back to the barn after the race. Jockey Jose Lezcano said, "I told Brian last time after the Met Mile, I thought the best distance for this horse was six or seven furlongs. He did the job today. You could see by the way he finished. He really came running at the end."

Left: Second place finisher Palace in the paddock before the race. The 4-1 third choice raced 4th early under jockey Cornelio Velasquez then rallied to get second beaten 6 1/4 lengths. The Linda Rice trainee improved his record to 9 wins, 5 seconds, and 2 thirds in 19 starts, earning $799,550 for owner Antonino Miuccio.

Right: Third place finisher Salutos Amigos in the paddock before the race. The 9-1 shot was 5th early under Corey Lanerie then came through on the rail to get third beaten 6 1/2 lengths. The David Jacobson trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 1 second, and 4 thirds in 19 starts, earning $288,806 for owners David Jacobson and Southern Equine Stable.

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