O’Brien Back to the Flat With High Definition in G2 Belmont Gold Cup

June 9, 2023

NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— Leipers Fork’s steeplechaser High Definition will make his return to the flat for the first time since October in Friday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup, shipping in from Ireland and exiting three runs in Group 1 hurdle affairs.  

Trained by Joseph O’Brien, who won the 2021 edition with Baron Samedi, the 5-year-old son of Galileo has held a high profile since day one. As a juvenile, when in the care of his father Aidan O’Brien, the full-brother to Group 1-placed Innisfree won his first two races like the proverbial real deal, defeating subsequently Group 1-placed Wordsworth on debut and then winning the Group 2 Beresford well enough to garner future-book favoritism for the Group 1 [Epsom] Derby. 

Prospects for High Definition became a bit more blurry after that, going 0-for-4 as a 3-year-old while starting as the betting favorite in three of those and chasing home the likes of Hurricane Lane and Yibir.  

After a winless 4-year-old flat season that saw him race with credit, including a second in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and third in the Group 1 Coronation Cup, he was transferred to the younger O’Brien and given an opportunity in a Boxing Day two-mile maiden hurdle. A one-sided winner, he then competed in the aforementioned triad of top-level hurdle races, capped with a second in late April’s Group Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. Shaking things up again, O’Brien sends him back to the flat and across the Atlantic. 

“Obviously, we were lucky enough to win the race with Baron Samedi and we think, like him, High Definition is the right type for the race,” O’Brien said. “He has settled in at Belmont and had a jump from the gates yesterday morning. He’s an experienced performer at this stage, so he should be able to handle the circumstances of the race well.”

Like Baron Samedi, High Definition enters the two-mile staying challenge with stamina in spades and a 112 Official Rating—but the similarities end there. High Definition, despite a propensity for picking up place checks, enters with a significantly higher profile. He also, unlike the closing Baron Samedi, is more of a free-running, forwardly placed sort.

“He should handle the quicker ground and we are expecting him to get the two miles well,” O’Brien concluded. “We do expect him to race relatively forwardly. He’s not a hard puller, so he can stalk the pace take the lead. I’m really hopeful for a good run.”

O’Brien, 30, was a champion jockey in Ireland while riding first call for Ballydoyle and winning group/grade 1s in Ireland, France, UK, UAE and USA. As a trainer, he shot to superstardom, with top-level wins in Ireland, Australia, France, UK and the USA. The dual Group 1 Melbourne Cup-winning conditioner has four wins from 26 runs in America, including Iridessa’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and State of Rest’s Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational.

Very well done piece by The King, John Stettin twitter.com/jonathanstetti…

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