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Belmont Stakes shapes up as showdown between Derby, Preakness winners

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Frankie Dettori celebrates after riding Twirling Point to victory in Saturday's Jersey Derby. Photo courtesy of Monmouth Park
1 of 2 | Frankie Dettori celebrates after riding Twirling Point to victory in Saturday's Jersey Derby. Photo courtesy of Monmouth Park

June 3 (UPI) -- Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the U.S. Triple Crown, shapes up as a showdown between the winners of the first two races, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, with several also-rans from those races back looking to spring an upset.

As fans and handicappers brace for an avalanche of graded stakes action surrounding the Belmont and stretching over four days at Saratoga Racecourse, there was still plenty to digest from the weekend just past.

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The Triple Crown

After waiting until almost the last moment, trainer Kenny McPeek says he intends to enter Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan in Saturday's Belmont Stakes at Saratoga, where he's likely to face off with Preakness Stakes winner Seize the Grey.

The field will be drawn Monday night and is expected to include some of the others defeated in the first few legs of the Triple Crown.

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The special Saratoga meeting, necessitated by the rebuilding of Belmont Park, has 15 graded stakes (including one steeplechase) packed into four days starting Thursday.

Classic

Highland Falls used a relentless drive through the Churchill Downs stretch to overtake the leaders and win Saturday's $275,000 Blame Stakes by 1 length over Cagliostro. Dreamlike was third.

Highland Falls, a 4-year-old Godolphin homebred colt by Curlin, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:48.51. Florent Geroux had the mount for trainer Brad Cox.

Also Saturday, Palazzi rallied from the back of the seven-horse field to win Saturday's $210,000 (Canadian) Grade II Eclipse Stakes at Woodbine by 1/2 length from the favorite, Tyson.

Distaff

Scylla stalked the pace made by Xigera in Saturday's $275,000 Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs, blazed by that rival when asked by jockey Julien Leparoux and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths.

Fashionably Fab waited right behind the pacesetting duo down the Woodbine backstretch in Saturday's $162,000 (Canadian) Grade III Belle Mahoney Stakes, got between them in the stretch and had the best late effort to win by a neck over Solo Album.

Turf

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For the first time in at least a decade, Frankie Dettori wasn't at Epsom Downs on Derby Day Saturday.

That doesn't mean he didn't ride a Derby winner, though, as the Italian-born citizen of the world booted home Twirling Point to victory in the $104,000 Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park.

The Twirling Candy gelding needed all of Dettori's skills, winning by a nose from Move to Gold with Fidelightcayut just another nose back in third.

Ottoman Fleet sailed by the early speed in the final furlong of Saturday's $275,000 Arlington Stakes at Churchill Downs and ran on to win by 1 length. Flavien Prat rode for trainer Charlie Appleby.

Cugino led from the early jumps in Saturday's $275,000 Audubon Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Churchill Downs turf and kicked clear in the stretch to score a 4 1/4-length win. Lagynos was best of the rest, a head in front of Camaro Z.

Turf Mile

First World War had to fight through traffic to get running room outside rival in Friday's $400,000 Grade III Penn Mile for 3-year-olds at Penn National, but got the job done, winning by a nose over Aspenite and another neck from the favorite, Trikari. Dettori rode the winner before heading to the Jersey Shore.

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Filly & Mare Turf

Delahaye circled rivals in the stretch run of Sunday's $250,000 Grade III Old Forester Mint Julep Stakes for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs and prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths. Heavenly Sunday was best of the rest, 1/2 length in front of Safeen in third.

Circle of Trust angled four-wide to challenge for the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Honeymoon Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita and held the advantage, winning by 1 1/4-lengths over the rallying Sakura Blossom.

Poolside With Slim opened a lead in the stretch in Friday's $150,000 Penn Oaks at Penn National and held on to win by a head over Nice as Pie, who rallied from last of 10. The aforementioned Frankie Dettori rode Poolside With Slim, an Irish-bred daughter of Churchill.

Pin Up Betty rallied from last of seven to win Saturday's $275,000 Regret Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs by 1 1/2 lengths from Buchu. Gavea was a long shot third.

Turf Sprint

Play the Music launched a bid from just off the pace in Saturday's $162,000 (Canadian) Grade III Royal North Stakes for fillies and mares at Woodbine and scampered home first by 2 1/4 lengths.

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Secret Money finished second, but was banished to seventh for misbehaving, leaving place money for Miss Speedy.

Sprint

Happy Jack got first run to the lead in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita and the late-running favorite, Dr. Venkman, just fell farther and farther behind in the stretch, finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

A 5-year-old son of Oxbow, Happy Jack ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.32 with Edwin Maldonado riding for trainer Doug O'Neill.

Closethegame Sugar chased down odds-on favorite Skelly in the final sixteenth in Saturday's $275,000 Alcibiades Stakes at Churchill Downs, worked by that rival and got clear to a 1-length victory. Tejano Twist was third.

Australian-bred Flag of Honour stalked the pace in Saturday's $162,000 (Canadian) Grade III Jacques Cartier Stakes at Woodbine, took the lead in the lane and outfinished Old Chestnut for a 1 1/4-length victory.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Chismosa outfinished Richi in Sunday's $100,000 Desert Stormer Stakes at Santa Anita, winning by 1 1/4 length over that rival. Chismosa, a 4-year-old daughter of Clubhouse Ride, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.70 with Tiago Periera riding.

Miuccia stalked the pace in Saturday's $95,000 Game Face Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park, moved up willingly for jockey Miguel Vasquez and ran on to win by 3 3/4 lengths over odds-on favorite Haulin Ice.

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