Dettori Leaps Into Belmont Racing Festival

June 6, 2024

Dettori levitates off of his mount Twirling Point after their victory in the Jersey Derby. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

By Maribeth Kalinich

Frankie Dettori has been leaping into the winner’s circle a lot lately.

He jumped for joy and spectacle at Santa Anita, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Pimlico, Parx and Monmouth Park. And now he hopes to hop into the Saratoga winner’s circle.

Although he has no mount in the Belmont Stakes, the feisty Italian will be riding at Saratoga for the entire Belmont Festival.

Dettori comes off wins in the Dinner Party Stakes at Pimlico atop Balnikov (IRE), the double at Parx in the Grade 3, Penn Mile on First World War and the Penn Oaks on Poolside with Slim (IRE), and the Jersey Derby victory the very next day at Monmouth aboard Twirling Point. 

Dettori leaps after his Dinner Party victory at Pimlico. (Anika Miskar/Past The Wire)

Thursday, Dettori gets a leg up in two $85,000 Maiden Special Weights on the turf with trainer Kevin Bond’s homebred Cerretta in race 5 and James G. Doyle’s Charles J for trainer Joseph Lee in race 8.

A 5-year-old Midnight Lute mare out of Lift by Pulpit, Cerretta has made 14 career starts but has yet to break her maiden. Could Frankie be her lucky charm?

A 3-year-old with an equally eye-catching pedigree, Charles J is by Cairo Prince out of City Zip mare Laughing Girl.

Debuting at Laurel Park in November with a fifth-place finish, Charles J moved north to Aqueduct for three tries with his last April 26 being his best at third place. Can a move further north with Dettrori in the irons boost this colt to the finish line first?

Dettori chases $1.5 million reason to jump on Friday in three six-figure allowances races and two Grade 1 stakes. 

In races 2 and 6 Dettori goes for conditioner Brad Cox in $115K and a $110K Allowance Optional Claiming races. The first race aboard Spendthrift Farm, et al’s Tapit Shoes (Tapit) is on the main track while Qatar Racing’s Army Officer (Not This Time) will be guided on the inner turf.

Dettori switches back and forth between the main and the inner turf as in race 7, a $100K allowance, he pilots Practical Joke filly West Point Thoroughbreds, et al’s Very Practical for Shug McGaughey. 

The 3-year-old filly owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Magic Cap Stables, Robert Abernathy and DeLynn Abernathy has already won at Tampa Bay Downs in March having debuted in December 2023 at Aqueduct.

Running on the inner turf in the $500K Grade 1, Just a Game Stakes, Dettori with be aboard Juddmonte homebred Coppice (GB) for trainer Chad Brown.

Detorri leaps after his win in the 2024 Jenny Wiley aboard Beaute Cachee. (Keeneland Photo)

Coppice will be making only his second start in the U.S. having raced in Great Britain winning on debut at Kempton Park October 2022 and last racing to a fourth-place finish in the Group 1 Virgin Bet Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

This will also be the second time Dettori is aboard as the two just missed the victory on May 4 at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Longines Churchill Distaff Mile by a neck to Chili Flag!

I think it’s safe to say Dettori and Coppice could be up there as he and Coppice as well as Chili Flag rallied from way back to a dueling finish. 

In the $750,000 Grade 1, New York Stakes presented by Rivers Casino, Dettori boards Mark Dobbin’s American Sonja (GB) teaming with trainer Joseph O’Brien on the turf.

The 4-year-old filly will be making her second start in the U.S. and at Saratoga having finished second in the Grade 3 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Invitational last August. 

Coming off the pace, American Sonja rallied to second 3-1/4 lengths behind. 

The Tasleet (GB) filly out of Kodiak (GB) mare Gumhrear (IRE is coming off a victory at Longchamp in late April in the Group 3 Prix Allez France Longines. 

Dettori + O’Brien + turf + this Group 3-winning filly could be a real winning combination. 

On the Belmont Stakes undercard, Dettori will have seven chances to score part of the $2.4 million in purses.

Dettori starts out in race 2, a $110,000 Allowance Optional Claiming race on the inner turf aboard Curlin filly Camera for Todd Pletcher and owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert LaPenta, Stonestreet Stables and Madaket Stables in their silks.

After a few race breaks he rides his Preakness mount, SF Racing, Starlight Racing, et al’s Imagination, on the main track in the $500,000 Grade 1 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun. 

Bob Baffert trainee Imagination finished seventh in the Preakness but was a close second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April and won the Grade 2 San Felipe in March.

Frankie Dettori lept for his six wins at Santa Anita on April 6. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Back on the turf for trainer Peter Gulyas, Dettori hops on Bregman Family Racing, et al’s No Nay Mets (IRE)in the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing.

Having won the Royal Palm Juvenile stakes at Gulfstream Park in his debut, No Nay Mets had a hiccough in the Norfolk Stakes over at Ascot but was back to form at Monmouth Park and Colonial Downs winning the Tyro Stakes and the Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes, respectively.

After a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1, Breeders’ Cup juvenile Turf Sprint, No Nay Mets stakes a bit flat at Keeneland and Churchill Downs with fourth place finishes in the Palisades and William Walker.

In the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan, Dettori stays on turf with Godolphin’s homebred Nations Pride (IRE) for Charlie Appleby.

With 14 career starts the stalwart Nations Pride was third in his last outing, his first start after a six-month layoff, at Belmont at the Big A in the Grade 2, Man o’ War Stakes with a blistering ESF of 112 with Dettori aboard. 

In November 2023 the Teofilo (IRE) son had a lackluster performance in the Grade 2, Bahrain International Trophy finishing seventh but in October winning the Grade 1 Canadian International Stakes with another sizzling ESF of 117 with British jockey William Buick piloting. 

He raced in Munchen in July and won the Grade 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Pries after Stonestreet starts at Meydan in February and March where he placed there in the Grade 1 Dubai turf and won the Grade 3 Millennium Stakes.

Nations Pride almost swept the Caesars series placing second in the Belmont Derby Invitational, winning the Saratoga Derby Invitational, both Grade 1s, and the Grade 3, Jockey Club Derby.

His flakiest performance was in the Longines Breedes’ Cup Turf where finished fifth but earned his career high ESF of123.

After finishing second on debut at Great Yarmouth, Nations Pride racked up wins at Lingfield, Chelmsford City, Meydan, Newmarket but was flat at Epsom in the Cazoo Derby. 

Dettori has his work cut out for him aboard Nations Pride. A lot of speed and a lot of horse. 

Dettori goes to the inner turf for race 13 in a Maiden Claiming race for trainer H. James Bond where he has to choose between riding Assisi or Purpose, both entered.

In the Belmont card closer, a $100K Allowance on turf, Dettori pilots Capture the Flag, and as in his opening act, he rides for Todd Pletcher.

The 4-year-old Quality Road colt only made one start as a 2-year-old winning on debut at Saratoga in July 2022. 

The chestnut came back a year later at Saratoga in an Allowance and faltered. 

After a two-month rest he comeback in two Allowance races at Belmont at the Big A in October with third and fourth place finishes, respectively.

Owned by Allen Stable, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg Limited and Jonathan Poulin, this will be Capture the Flag’s first start of the season.  

Dettori has made 784 starts in North America with 122 wins, 97 seconds and 111 third place finishes earning a whopping $44.7 million. 

Great read! Thanks @jonathanstettin Feels like you’re sitting across the table breaking down the day with the expert pastthewire.com/to-b-or-not-to…

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