Pennine Ridge Stakes is Key Prep for Belmont Derby
A week to go until the Belmont Stakes and huge day of racing with the Belmont Racing Festival. But Saturday’s $200,000 Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park is a key race and a potential wet one with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast at Belmont with a 50% chance of rain during the afternoon.
The Pennnine Ridge serves as a key prep race for the Grade 1 Belmont Derby which takes place during the 4th of July weekend and is usually one of the top races for 3-year-old lawn mowers on the Summer racing calendar. The forecast for rain has cut the field from 8 to 5 runners with the 1 1/8 mile race for 3-year-olds scheduled on Belmont’s inner turf.
Those scratched include Up the Ante, who has a sore foot according to trainer Christophe Clement. Long shot Archaggelos is out and Hawkish is running in tonight’s Penn Mile at Penn National.
That leaves Chad Brown-trained Analyze It as the deserved odds-on favorite (4-5), and he’ll be especially tough to take down as the pace controller with Jose Ortiz aboard. According to Super Screener, modest fractions will set up Analyze It to burst away as he did two races back with the added ground posing no problems for the well-bred colt. Analyze It is undefeated in three starts with win margins from 4-6 lengths. According to ECHR, Analyze It is just SO GOOD, and one of the most exciting turf prospects to begin his career. A single isolation in this race and the Pick 3 and Pick 4. The last race for Analyze It was a win by more than 5 lengths at Keeneland in the Transylvania (G3) as the 4-5 favorite. Hawkish would have been a pace presser, but with him out, it will be a more modest trip for Analyze It with Catholic Boy (4-1) the biggest threat.
Trainer Johnathan Thomas was quite forth coming and indicated that Catholic Boy is being pointed to the Grade 1 Belmont Derby if he responds well here. Javier Castellano rides, and the connections admitted Catholic Boy will not be fully cranked here so just looking for a good finish. The last race for Catholic Boy was a 4th place finish as the second wagering choice in the Florida Derby, a Kentucky Derby prep race.
The top longshot projection at 15-1 is Irish Territory (IRE) trained by Bill Mott. He had a good runner-up effort in a Saratoga Grade 3 stakes race last summer and then was off for eight months before running at Keeneland. He needed a race, and came back strong to break his maiden at Churchill Downs last month against a softer 11-horse field. He’ll try to stay near the front and push Analyze It.
Todd Pletcher-trained long shot Channel Cat (20-1) had a better debut than it looked as he went wide. He failed to hit the board in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream and then won an allowance race. But his last at Churchill in the American Turf with 14 runners was another troubled trip out of the money four lengths behind the winner. He can run better and has fewer runners to contend with, but the surface is now a concern.
The Pennine Ridge Stakes is Race 9 at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 2 with post time at approximately 5:50 ET.