A talented quartet of Godolphin runners trained by Charlie Appleby will arrive in New York on Sunday to prepare for starts during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival that runs from Thursday, June 3 through Saturday, June 5, headlined by the 153rd running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown.
All four of Appleby’s runners – Rebel’s Romance, Desert Peace, Summer Romance and Althiqa – are expected to run during the festival, with Group 2 UAE Derby-winner Rebel’s Romance set to compete in the Belmont Stakes on June 5.
The sophomore son of Dubawi, an Irish homebred out of the Street Cry mare Minidress, Rebel’s Romance has won 4-of-5 starts. He made the grade last out with a 5 1/2-length romp in the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby on March 27 at Meydan.
“Rebel’s Romance and Desert Peace are going to ship out on Saturday from Dubai,” said Appleby, who will be saddling his first starters in New York. “The two fillies, Althiqa and Summer Romance, are going to join them on Sunday and ship into Belmont and New York on Sunday at some stage, hopefully.”
Desert Peace, a 4-year-old son of Curlin, was a $1.3 million purchase at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Bred in Kentucky by Doug and Felicia Branham, the colt’s stakes-winning dam Stoweshoe is a full-sister to Grade 1-winning millionaire mare Taris.
The lightly raced Desert Peace was a nose winner last out traveling one-mile on May 11 over the Meydan main track.
Summer Romance and Althiqa, who finished first and third last out in the nine-furlong Group 2 Balanchine on February 18 at Meydan, are targeting the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game, a one-mile turf event for older fillies and mares.
“Althiqa and Summer Romance are going to both head to the Just a Game and it’s undecided where Desert Peace will run during Belmont Stakes weekend,” said Appleby.
Summer Romance, a 4-year-old Kingman grey out of the Statue of Liberty mare Serena’s Storm, is a half-sister to multiple Group 1-winning millionaire Rizeena.
Appleby said a good result in the Just a Game could propel the filly to a start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana, a nine-furlong turf test for older fillies and mares on July 17 at Saratoga.
“If Summer Romance were to run well, she has a second option of stepping up a bit farther at Saratoga in the Diana,” said Appleby. “I’m looking forward to it. We’re getting in there earlier so that we can acclimatize and get used to the track.”
Bred in Ireland by Roundhill Stud, Summer Romance captured the 1 1/16-mile Group 3 Princess Elizabeth in July at Epsom. Last out, in just her second start of the season, Summer Romance won the Balanchine by 2 ¼-lengths at Meydan.
Althiqa, a British homebred by Dark Angel and out of the Shamardal mare Mistrusting, won the Prix Amandine in July at Deauville in France ahead of a trio of group placings to close out her sophomore season. The grey filly launched her 4-year-old campaign in style with a score in the Group 2 Cape Verdi at Meydan ahead of her third in the Balanchine.
Appleby is a three-time Breeders’ Cup winning trainer, conditioning Outstrip [2013 Juvenile Fillies Turf], Wuheida [2017 Filly and Mare Turf] and Line of Duty [2018 Juvenile Turf] to Grade 1 scores.
For more information, visit www.BelmontStakes.com.
NYRA Press Release, NYRA Photo