NYRA's Caesars Turf Triple Leans Heavily on European Invites


Bolshoi Ballet was one of four Europeans winners
in last year's six Turf Triple events
| Coglianese

The Caesars Turf Triple, the New York Racing Association (NYRA)'s series for 3-year-olds on the grass, will kick off July 9 at Belmont Park and may include a major European contingent. NYRA released the invitees Saturday for both the GI Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, worth $1 million, and the $700,000 GI Belmont Oaks Invitational. Both the male and female divisions begin at the distance of 1 1/4 miles. Of the six races in the series–three each for colts and fillies–four were won last year by European-based trainers.

Aidan O'Brien, who took the 2021 Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks with Bolshoi Ballet (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Santa Barbara (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), respectively, has Aikhal (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Stone Age (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) for the Derby and Concert Hall (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) for the Oaks this year. Joseph O'Brien, who saddled State of Rest (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) to capture the 2021 GI Saratoga Derby (second leg), secured an invitation for Agartha (Ire) (Caravaggio) for the Oaks. Charlie Appleby won the 2021 Jockey Club Derby (third leg) with Yibir (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and has Nations Pride (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) for the Derby this year, as well as With The Moonlight (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) for the Oaks.

Other Europeans include Charlie Johnston with Royal Patronage (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) (Derby); Pia Brandt with Implementation (Constitution) (Derby) and Hot Queen (Fr) (Recorder {GB}) (Oaks); Fabrice Chappet with Machete (Fr) (Myboycharlie {Ire}) (Derby); and Francis-Henri Graffard with Know Thyself (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) (Oaks).

“It looks like the trip, track, and ground–all the conditions at Belmont–should suit him well,” said Johnston of Royal Patronage. “I'm looking forward to taking him out there.”

Many of the European-based trainers echoed Johnston's remarks regarding their own runners. All Europeans are expected to ship and arrive Friday, July 1.

A total of 26 horses combined for the two races have been invited, including contenders from the barns of Todd Pletcher, Shug McGaughey, Chad Brown, Mike Maker, Ken McPeek, Bob Hess, Christophe Clement, Brendan Walsh, and Graham Motion.

“You're going to encounter the best and that's why the series was designed,” said Pletcher on meeting top foreign-based horses on the track. “That's what you would expect in these big million-dollar races. It will be a challenge, I'm sure.”

The second legs of the Caesars Turf Triple are scheduled at Saratoga for Aug. 6 (GI Caesars Saratoga Derby) and Aug. 7 (GIII Saratoga Oaks) at 1 3/16 miles.

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