Siskany Leads Loaded Field of Turf Stayers in G2 Belmont Gold Cup

June 5, 2023

Siskany capturing the Nad Al Sheba Trophy at Dubai Racing Club. (DRC Photo)

NYRA Notes

ELMONT, N.Y. – Godolphin’s British homebred Siskany (GB) tops a contentious field of 13 in Friday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup, a two-mile Widener turf test for older horses, at Belmont Park.

The Belmont Gold Cup is one of five stakes lined up for Day Two of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival along with a trio of Grade 1 events in the $600,000 New York, the $500,000 Just a Game and the $500,000 Acorn along with the Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, Siskany took the 12-furlong Godolphin in September at Newmarket and added the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy at 1 3/4-miles over good Meydan turf to his ledger in February. 

The 5-year-old Dubawi gelding was defeated a neck by Broome two starts back in March in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup and will make his North American debut from a close fifth in the 1 3/4-mile Group 2 Yorkshire Cup on May 19 over good-to-firm ground at York.

“He ran well last time against some very good horses. No disrespect to Siskany, as he’s had a great international campaign, but that’s probably where he sits in Europe,” said Appleby, who captured the Grade 2 Fort Marcy with Ottoman Fleet here earlier in the meet. “I can’t blame the track for his run, because at the end of the day, he has that level there and when he goes to the international stage, it always seems to bring out improvement.”

The marathon specialist was a good third in the 1 7/8-miles Group 3 Red Sea Turf last February at King Abdulaziz Racecourse and Appleby said he fancies Siskany’s chances over Belmont’s expansive Widener turf course.

“The trip will suit him there on Friday,” Appleby said. “He’s a good two-miler or a mile-and-six [-furlong] horse, but he’s not a Group 1 horse, so we wouldn’t go to Ascot with him. We’ll take Yibir to Ascot for the Gold Cup. On his best form, Siskany is in with a good chance.”

William Buick retains the mount from post 2 aboard Siskany, who races with cheek pieces on and was assigned 122 pounds.

Channel Maker taking the Grand Couturier (Adam Coglianese)

Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s multiple Grade 1-winner Channel Maker (ON) [post 3, Luis Saez, 122 pounds] boasts a record of 52-9-6-5 for purse earnings in excess of $3.7 million.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the evergreen 9-year-old English Channel gelding will travel beyond 12 furlongs for the first time. The Ontario-bred has amassed an impressive list of honors, including a Sovereign Award as Canada’s Champion 3-Year-Old Colt in 2017 and an Eclipse Award as the 2020 Champion Turf Male.

He has posted graded scores in the 2019 Grade 1 Man o’ War, the Grade 2 Bowling Green [2018], Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational [2018, 2020], Grade 1 Sword Dancer [2020], and Grade 2 Elkhorn [2022].

Channel Maker enters from a close sixth in the Grade 1 Man o’ War on May 13 here where he led the way and stayed on strong down the lane to finish sixth, defeated less than two lengths by the victorious Red Knight.

“He ran a really good race last time. He didn’t win but was beaten half a length for second. He’s been a real warrior,” Mott said.

High Definition won the Maiden Weight For Age Hurdle Dec. 26, 2022, at  Leopardstown.

Leipers Fork Steeplechasers Group 2 winner High Definition (IRE) [post 11, Jose Ortiz, 118 pounds] will make his North American debut for trainer Joseph O’Brien. 

The 5-year-old Galileo bay’s last win on the flat came in the 2020 Group 2 Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford at the Curragh. He posted a runner-up effort in the 10-furlong Group 1 Gold Cup last May at odds of 20-1 at the Curragh and followed 12 days later with a third-place finish in the 12-furlong Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom. He enters from a runner-up effort over jumps on April 28 at Punchestown.

Patrick Husbands and British Royalty upset and make history in the 2021 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine. (Michael Burns Photo)

British Royalty (ON) [post 8, Kazushi Kimura, 118 pounds] finished second in this event last year. Trained and co-owned by Barbara Minshall with Bruce Lunsford, the 5-year-old English Channel gelding hit the gate at the break and trailed in last-of-8 under Joel Rosario before closing to finish 3 1/4-lengths back of the victorious Loft.

“He had a bit of a raggedy start, but he overcame it and ran well. After two miles, if you can’t overcome a bad start then you probably weren’t going to win it anyway,” said Minshall, with a laugh. “He ran a good race and that’s why we’re coming back. The horse definitely wants distance, and we haven’t been able to find that kind of race.”

British Royalty finished a good second in the 11-furlong Grade 3 Singspiel in September at Woodbine before closing out his campaign with a pair of off-the-board efforts in the 12-furlong Grade 3 Sycamore on the Keeneland turf in October and the Grade 3 Valedictory over 12-furlongs on the Woodbine Tapeta in December.

Minshall said British Royalty simply doesn’t run his best efforts over synthetic.

“Knowing the horse, I have a reason I can throw those last races out and I’m expecting a lot better effort,” Minshall said. “At Keeneland, the rider took too much of a hold of him and the horse’s head was in the air, and he never got to drop his head and relax.”.

British Royalty will make his seasonal debut from a six-month layoff with a steady string of breezes under his belt on Woodbine’s Tapeta surface.

“He had a bit of a break and then he was at Travis Durr’s training center in South Carolina all winter,” Minshall said. “Since he’s come back, he’s had a lot of works and a lot of two miles, and he seems very fit. Kazushi Kimura’s been on him several times here in the morning, so he knows him a little bit. He’s a tricky horse for any rider to just hop on and ride, so hopefully it works out that he’s had a chance to know the horse a little bit.”

Kimura won the 2019 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and has been named Canada’s Outstanding Jockey the past two years. Minshall said she will task Kimura with working out a mid-pack stalking trip for British Royalty.

“He’s got a great, galloping stride,” Minshall said. “He just needs to get into the flow and I think he’ll finish up. I wouldn’t mind if it rains a little bit, he loves soft ground.”

Bred in Ontario by Richard Lister, British Royalty boasts a record of 17-2-4-0 for purse earnings of $381,532.

Amazing Grace glides to victory in the Orchid. (Coglianese)

The 5-year-old German-bred mare Amazing Grace (GER) [post 7, Joel Rosario, 117 pounds] will take on the boys for trainer Christophe Clement while stretching out beyond 12 furlongs for the first time.

Amazing Grace, owned by Moyglare Stud Farm, launched her career in Europe with conditioner Waldemar Hickst, capturing the 10-furlong Group 2 Diana Trial at Hoppegarten in May 2021 and the 12-furlong Group 2 T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis in September at Baden-Baden. 

She completed her European campaign with a third-place finish against the boys in the Group 1 Preis von Europa at Cologne when three lengths back of the victorious Rebel’s Romance, who was in the midst of a five-race win streak that culminated with a victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland.

The chestnut has made two starts for Clement, capturing the 12-furlong Grade 3 Orchid in April at Gulfstream ahead of an even fourth last out in the 11-furlong Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay over good going.

Clement had initially considered entering Amazing Grace in the 10-furlong Grade 1 New York on Friday here but opted to stretch out the talented chestnut.

“I know she stays. She’s a good filly,” Clement said. “She ran below form last time. She’s better than that. She has trained very, very well coming out of the race. She’s a very good-looking filly and fun to train.”

Cross Border won the 2021 Bowling Green on a DQ. (Chelsea Durand)

Three Diamonds Farm’s multiple graded-stakes winning New York-bred Cross Border [post 12, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 118 pounds] returns to the Mike Maker barn after five starts for conditioner Keri Brion, including a trio of efforts over jumps.

The 9-year-old millionaire son of English Channel, bred by Berkshire Stud and B. D. Gibbs, captured back-to-back editions of the 11-furlong Grade 2 Bowling Green in 2020-21 for Maker. The ultra-consistent ridgling sports a ledger of 49-12-8-6 but has yet to win over the Belmont turf, although he has finished second here on three occasions.

The Grey Wizard was 3/4 back of Prince Abama in the Hollywood Turf Cup.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Albert Frassetto’s multiple graded-stakes placed The Grey Wizard [post 13, John Velazquez, 120 pounds] enters from a smart 12-furlong allowance score on April 27 at Keeneland in his seasonal debut for conditioner Graham Motion.

The 4-year-old Caravaggio grey finished a distant second to Nations Pride in the 11-furlong Grade 3 Jockey Club Derby Invitational in September at the Big A and two starts later closed to finish second to Prince Abama in the 12-furlong Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in November at Del Mar. He closed out his campaign with a pair of 10-furlong turf starts at Santa Anita, winning an allowance before landing a close fifth in the Grade 3 San Marcos.

“Two miles is a bit of an unknown for all of us, but he seems like a horse that wants to do that,” Motion said. “I’ve really been pleased with him. He’s progressed and he’s a much more impressive workhorse now than he was last year. I feel like he’s coming into the race really well.”

Tide of the Sea taking the McKnight (Coglianese)

A stacked field also includes graded-stakes winner Tide of the Sea [post 4, Katie Davis, 118 pounds], who exits a pacesetting second in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy here for conditioner Tom Morley; the multiple graded stakes-placed Strong Tide [post 5, Dylan Davis, 118 pounds] for trainer Michael Lauer; the Archibald Kingsley, Jr.-trained trio of graded-stakes winner L’Imperator [post 6, Trevor McCarthy, 122 pounds], stakes-placed Cibolian [post 10, Tyler Gaffalione, 118 pounds] – who races with blinkers off –  and Barbados [post 1, Junior Alvarado, 118 pounds], who races with cheek-pieces off; and last-out Hasta La Vista-winner Tartini [post 9, Kendrick Carmouche, 118 pounds] for trainer Rob Atras.

The Belmont Gold Cup is slated as Race 10 on Friday’s 11-race card. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern. 

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