Trikari All Grit in Belmont Derby

July 6, 2024

Trikari wins the gritty duel with White Palomino. (Susie Raisher)

Pulls off upset with Johnny V. up in G1 Belmont Derby Invitational

“He is so impressive in the morning. Physically, he is such a big, strong, good-looking horse.” 

By Lynne Snierson

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Though he was dispatched as the lesser-regarded of the two sophomore sons of Oscar Performance carrying the colors of Amerman Racing in the 75th edition of the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, Trikari proved tops in Saturday’s 1 3/16-mile outer turf test for 3-year-olds at Belmont at the Big A.

The Belmont Derby was co-featured on Saturday’s 11-race card which included the Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational won by Cinderella’s Dream in Race 9, the Grade 2, $200,000 John A. Nerud won by Mullikin in Race 8 and the Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer won by Domestic Product earlier in the day in Race 2.

Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez and trained by Graham Motion, 5-1 co-third choice Trikari won a furious battle in the lane with White Palomino to his inside and prevailed by a head in the final time of 1:54.71 on the firm course to return $12.40 for a $2 wager. White Palomino, also sent postward at 5-1 in the compact but evenly matched field of five, finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Godolphin’s Legend of Time, sent off as the 3-2 favorite.

Royal Majesty was fourth and Amerman Racing’s multiple graded stakes-winner Endlessly wasn’t a factor in the outcome in his return to turf for the first time since November and his first start since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

Motion, who also trained the colt’s graded stakes-winning dam Dynamic Holiday, said he expected a strong effort from Trikari.

“He is so impressive in the morning. Physically, he is such a big, strong, good-looking horse.” (Chelsea Durand)
“He is so impressive in the morning. Physically, he is such a big, strong, good-looking horse.” (Chelsea Durand)

“Honestly, I’m not surprised. My only concern was if he’d get the distance, but this horse, he really doesn’t do anything wrong,” Motion said. “I mean he is so impressive in the morning. Physically, he is such a big, strong, good-looking horse. I trained the mare, and I didn’t think the distance was going to be an issue, but you never know.”

Trikari stalked the pace set by White Palomino, who went to the front and was well-rated by Flavien Prat as the Chad Brown trainee set modest splits of 25 seconds flat, 50.24, 1:14.56, and 1:37.79. Though White Palomino responded when asked at the quarter-pole, he lost the lead to Trikari in the upper stretch. Nonetheless, White Palomino dug in and fought back courageously but just missed while seeking his first graded stakes score.

Motion said that the modest pace wasn’t to Trikari’s benefit.

“No, I think it would help him if they went on a little bit. At one point, right in front of us here, I thought Johnny might choose to go on, but he made the right call, forcing Flavien to go on. That is what he wanted to do, settle off the pace,” he said.

Hall of Fame John Velazquez and Trikari after their definitive victory. (Susie Raisher)
Hall of Fame John Velazquez and Trikari after their definitive victory. (Susie Raisher)

The Belmont Derby win was the third for the Hall of Famer Velazquez, who was last victorious in 1998 aboard Vergennes and also won in 1994 with Pennine Ridge.

“I wanted to make sure somebody else went [to the front] instead of me. He settled nice though, and at the five-sixteenths pole, I make sure I put a little pressure on the horse in front because he was just waiting,” Velazquez said. “I got him kind of quickly and then he came back at me and mine put his head down again. It was a nice run. Either of us was going to win if we got the head in front, and that’s what we did.”

Despite the narrow loss, Prat remained impressed by his horse’s courageous effort.

“We had an easy lead and I was trying to get him going early, but he was unfortunately waiting a bit for horses. The winner got the jump on us [but] he came back at the end. It was a good run,” Prat said. “He fought really hard and the winner just had a better kick turning for home. It was too comfortable. I was going too easy and I was trying to get him going a bit in the turn to get myself going, but unfortunately, once that horse came and hooked up with us, then he got going.”

Legend of Time, piloted by Willian Buick, ran a willing race from his inside post position but got out-kicked in the lane to wind up third. Trainer Charlie Appleby said the pace of the race worked to his horse’s detriment.

“We were drawn one and stuck down on the fence and they hacked around there. Will just said he could never get a crack at it They crawled around there – no pace, stuck in a box and couldn’t get out.”

Buick was in agreement with Appleby.

“He had a good trip, it just never opened up for him. He still finished up full of horse, which was unfortunate,” Buick said. “He ran really well and if he had gotten out sooner, it might have been a bit different. I was where I was, and that was it.”

Trainer Motion happily thanks his charge for their success. (Susie Raisher)
Trainer Motion happily thanks his charge for their success. (Susie Raisher)

The Grade 1, $600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 3 at Saratoga Race Course looks to shape up as a rematch between Trikari and Legend of Time.

“You’d have to look at it. I mean I want to be careful, I don’t want to over-run him, but we’ve got to look at it,” said Motion.

Appleby was looking ahead as well, and said, “It’s one of those runs where you draw a line through it and go back to Saratoga and hopefully head to the Saratoga Derby.”

Trikari improved his record to 7-4-1-1 while notching the first top-level score in his career and improved his bankroll to $996,630. He was bred in Kentucky by Michael A. Slezak and Amy Boll, and is the first Grade 1-winner for his sire Oscar Performance, whom Amerman Racing also campaigned to a Belmont Derby victory in 2017.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct for Closing Day of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet. The nine-race card features the $125,000 Hudson Valley in Race 2 and the $125,000 Port Washington in Race 5. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. 

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com

@PastTheWire I was moved. Had to put the “all 1’s” in the profile name. It’s utterly brilliant.

Mark ALL 1’s (@TriCrownCapper) View testimonials

Facebook

Comments

Leave a Comment