York and Adelaide in Belmont
Toast Of New York and Adelaide are set to bid for the inaugural Belmont Derby in New York on Saturday.
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The Grade One contest, run over one mile and two furlongs on turf, is the feature contest of the newly created Stars & Stripes Day, which also features the Grade One, $1 million Belmont Oaks, as well as the Grade Two Suburban, Grade Three Belmont Sprint Championship, and Grade Three Dwyer.
Toast Of New York, the 3/1 morning-line favourite in the States, has not been seen since his emphatic success in the UAE Derby but trainer Jamie Osborne is perfectly happy with his stable star's condition.
"He looks fantastic and he's been eating and drinking well since shipping," Osborne told www.nyra.com.
"We gave him a little bit of a break after his trip to Dubai and he's come back well. We're going slightly into unknown territory with him since his best races have come over synthetic surfaces, but he trains on turf and moves well over it, so I don't foresee it being a problem."
Jamie Spencer, who rode Toast of New York to victory in the UAE Derby, has the mount again, and the pair will break from the inside stall against the rail.
Osborne has been reporting scintillating gallops of late and is looking to see Toast Of New York cement his position as the current Team British Racing Champion, a Great British Racing International to showcase the array of talent within the domestic training ranks.
"Toast Of New York has been working really well, he is going into the race in the form of his life and we're hopeful and looking forward to a big run," said Osborne.
"I'm delighted that Toast Of New York is a part of Team British Racing. It is a great way to highlight British-trained runners and their connections racing overseas and the whole. The Toast of New York team and I are proud to be a part of it."
The horse's owner, Michael Buckley, is more used to being represented at the Cheltenham Festival but is planning more overseas raids if all goes to plan.
"It's thrilling to own a lovely colt such as Toast Of New York, and it is a happy coincidence that after I named him after the Cary Grant movie, he is good enough to contest a race in the State which gave him his name," he said.
"If we are lucky enough to win the Belmont Derby, we might consider going for the Pacific Classic at Del Mar towards the end of August. The ultimate goal, if we think we could be competitive, would be the Dubai World Cup next year.
"We are delighted to be part of Team British Racing and to do our part to promote British racing with our runners overseas.
"We look forward to representing Team British Racing this weekend at Belmont and in the future on Toast Of New York's international campaign."
Aidan O'Brien will send out King Edward VII Stakes runner-up Adelaide with Colm O'Donoghue taking the ride aboard the second favourite who is drawn in four..
"Adelaide is a lovely colt," said O'Brien. "He's a very good mover with a great temperament, like many of the Galileo's.
"He's only run four times to date but has improved with every start and hopefully he'll do so again. He travels well in his races so I'd be hopeful of a big run."
Their main competition may come from a French raider Gailo Chop.
Trained by Antoine De Watrigant for Australian syndicate OTI Racing, Gailo Chop enters the Belmont Derby on a four race winning streak that includes a pair of Group Threes in France.
"There are a number of factors [why Gailo Chop is running in the Belmont Derby]," said Terry Henderson, one of OTI's co-founders.
"No. 1, he couldn't start in the classics in France because he's a gelding. Second, the race was suggested to us by a pair of people we respect: Christophe Clement and Emmanuel de Seroux. Third, the purse being paid out got our attention. Put it this way, if the race was worth what it was worth last year [$500,000 as the Jamaica Handicap in October], we wouldn't be considering the race."
He is not the only Australian presence in the race with Gai Waterhouse making her first foray into American racing to saddle Pornichet.
The son of Vespone finished third in the French Guineas on his most recent outing, while in the care of former trainer Nicolas Clement. He will break from 8 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
The domestic challenge is headed by Bobby's Kitten - trained by Chad Brown for Ken and Sarah Ramsey - who will try to go 10 furlongs for the first time in his career on Saturday.
In 2013, the bay colt won the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont by 6 ¼ lengths, an effort that landed him the role of favourite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, in which he finished third.
The son of Kitten's Joy won his 2014 debut, then subsequently finished 12th in the Grade One Blue Grass at Keeneland before returning to form in the Penn Mile, which he won by 2 ¾ lengths.
"He's coming into the race good so far," said Brown. "He came out of the Penn Mile well and he's had three breezes since. The distance is a question mark, but he's bred to do it. If he relaxes and Javier [Castellano] gives him a good trip, he should be able to get the extra distance."
Mr Speaker, who will go out for trainer Shug McGaughey and Phipps Stable, will look to bounce back after a disappointing fifth in the Pennine Ridge at Belmont, the local prep for the Belmont Derby.
"He's training well right now," said McGaughey. "He didn't act like he had running on his mind in the paddock [prior to the Pennine Ridge] and he went to the post that way.
"His running style was not conducive to what he wants to do, being on the lead shadowed by a 50-1 shot. The whole thing was a disaster."
Prior to the Pennine Ridge, Mr Speaker won Grade Threes at Keeneland and Gulfstream Park and was also a fast-finishing second in another Grade Three at Gulfstream after encountering some early trouble in the race.
Completing the field are Dance With Fate, who landed the Grade One Blue Grass at Keeneland before enduring a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby in his last start; Gala Award and Flamboyant, who finished 1-2 in the Pennine Ridge; Global View, who finished second to Bobby's Kitten in the Penn Mile in his latest outing; and Sheldon, a recent maiden winner for trainer Jimmy Toner.