Catholic Boy, Firenze Fire, Athena and Diversify also prevailed at the Stars and Stripes card at Belmont. Meanwhile, there’s still no word on when or where triple Crown winner Justify will race next.
<p>The 2018 Stars and Stripes Racing Festival at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., had a loaded stakes race card Saturday with the $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes (G2) being the only race being part of the <a href="http://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series">Breeders' Cup Challenge Series</a>. Six-year-old Kentucky-based Limousine Liberal (9/5) won the automatic berth to Churchill Downs — a track where the horse has thrived, W6 of 8 starts — and the Breeders’ Cup Championships in early November for trainer Ben Colebrook, after topping 2nd-place finisher Whitmore in the “Win And You’re In” race.</p><p dir="ltr">Catholic Boy (4/1) prevailed in a field of nine 3-year-old males in the top turf race of 2018, the $1.2 million Belmont Derby (G1), with favorite Analyze It (5/2) finishing 2nd in the 1¼-mile (10 furlongs) race.</p><p dir="ltr">In the Dwyer Stakes (G3) at Belmont, Firenze Fire (6/1) was the impressive (107 Beyer Speed Figure) winner in the 1-mile dirt race, with Seven Trumpets (10/1) 2nd and heavy chalk and 2018 UAE Derby-winner Mendelssohn (8/5) finishing 3rd. The H. Allen Jenkins (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 25 <a href="http://www.drf.com/news/firenze-fire-pointing-h-allen-jerkens-stakes">may be the next race</a> for Firenze Fire.</p><p dir="ltr">The $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) saw 9/2 Athena emerge as the top 3-year-old filly of the weekend, topping 2nd-place finisher Thewayiam (10/1) in the 1¼-mile turf race for trainer Aidan O’Brien.</p><p dir="ltr">Diversify (6/1) was the 6-length winner in the Suburban Handicap (G2), beating respective 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers and longshots The Lieutenant (20/1) and Discreet Lover (20/1) in the 1¼-mile race. Trained by Rick Violette, New York-bred Diversify (110 Beyer Speed Figure) now has an impressive 6 wins in 8 starts at Belmont.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><h2 dir="ltr">Good Weekend For Other Horses</h2><p dir="ltr">Kentucky-bred favorite Red Ruby (7/2) won the 8-horse Delaware Oaks (G3) by an intimidating 13 lengths, beating 2nd-place finisher Coach Rocks in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race for 3-year-old fillies at Delaware Park on Saturday. The daughter of Tiznow and winner of the 2018 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes won for the 6th time in 8 career starts and recorded the best Beyer Speed Figure of any filly this year (104).</p><p dir="ltr"><img height="291" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/jtiC4olt7zmKod21WsE7-g7CADcmzcmUV9ZxM_vqb15kVvvgAnWhuiF5CjzPaNActyNnIlCv-Qu2UrepYscx7DePeh3BxwsRMZhQlheUxTMjlFRUEJn9FpFhexpjKkdv1N0uUqzf" width="624" /></p><p dir="ltr">Vision Perfect (7/2) won the $200,000 Parx Dash Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park, defeating 2nd-place finisher Pool Winner as trainer Jason Servis continued to dominate at the Oceanport, New Jersey, track.</p><p dir="ltr">Favorite Roaring Lion (8/5) topped Saxon Warrior (2/1) in the 7-horse, 1¼-mile turf Coral-Eclipse (G1) at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, Surrey, England on Saturday after a stewards’ inquiry after the two horses bumped into each other down the stretch. The two met earlier on June 2 in the Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Epsom, Surrey, with longshot Masar (16/1) beating both of them, with Roaring Lion (6/1) finishing 3rd and race favorite Saxon Warrior (4/5) ending up 4th.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><h2 dir="ltr">Betting Handle Up In Second Quarter</h2><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/228382/second-quarter-wagering-purses-improve?utm_source=BHTW&utm_medium=social">The BloodHorse reported</a> that horse racing wagering had a pretty good 2nd quarter, with numbers released by Equibase on July 5 showing an increase of 5.02% compared to the 2nd quarter in 2017, with a $3,238,712,347 handle.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-odds/" title="Sports Betting Odds">Wagering in the U.S. was up 5.56% from January to June</a> — despite a 2.45% dip in actual race days this calendar year — with the Kentucky Derby handle up 7.8% and the Belmont Stakes handle up 12%, thanks to Justify’s pursuit and delivering of the Triple Crown.</p><p dir="ltr">Purses for horsemen were up 2.19% in the 2Q, a 3.8% increase over last year, while average purses ($247,751) are up a healthy 6.89%, thanks to that aforementioned mathematical reality of fewer racing days.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><h2 dir="ltr">Baffert Coy About Justify's Future</h2><p dir="ltr">Triple Crown winner Justify (6-0-0 is 6 career starts, all in 2018) is <a href="https://www.app.com/story/sports/horses/2018/07/05/2018-haskell-justify-just-chilling-plans-still-up-air/759512002/">still reportedly relaxing</a> at his home stable at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. Trainer <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/" title="Free Sports Picks">Bob Baffert is still non-committal to what’s up next</a> for the chestnut colt by Scat Daddy who won 6 races in 112 days and but who was held out of training at Santa Anita on July 5.</p><p dir="ltr">The Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey, on July 29 or the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Aug. 25 are the likeliest candidates for Justify, who apparently lost some weight in Los Angeles during the gripping summer heat wave.</p><p dir="ltr">"He's finally showing that he's a horse," Baffert said. "He lightened up a bit, and we're trying to get a little weight on him. The only way to get weight back on is to back off a little. I can just tell he needs a little more time.”</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><h2 dir="ltr">Brown, Servis, Stall Keep Rolling</h2><p dir="ltr">Turf specialist trainer Chad Brown (104 wins, 81 2nds, 46 3rds, 28% Wins) was an insane 14-for-21 in graded stakes races (45% wins) heading into Saturday action.</p><p dir="ltr">Hot trainer Jason Servis began Saturday with a 54% win rate at Monmouth Park and a 48% win clip at Belmont Park, and increased that number when Vision Perfect won by a nose for Servis (lifetime 23.8% win) in the 5-furlong Parx Dash. Servis has W19 of 35 races at Monmouth (54.3%) and he has W17 of 35 races at Belmont (48.6%) during this current spring/summer meet, including Firenze Fire in the Dwyer in a race in which Noble Indy — winner of the 2018 Louisiana Derby — finished last (7th).</p><p dir="ltr">After his two entrants on the Louisiana Downs card Saturday were winners in Bossier City, L.A., trainer Al Stall Jr. has W13 of 14 starts in a streak that includes starts at Evangeline Downs and began with Louisiana-bred Half a Sugar (3-1-0 in 5 career starts), who won on June 20 at Louisiana Downs as well as again this past weekend, as did the Stall-trained Iona Guitar (1-0-0 in 1 career start).</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><h2 dir="ltr">A Special New Mexico Day For 'Big Money Mike'</h2><p dir="ltr">New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez declared Sunday “Mike E. Smith Day” in the Land of Enchantment in honor of the Roswell native’s astute career accomplishments, accentuated by the Hall of Fame jockey’s three rides in the irons of Justify this spring, expertly guiding and riding him to become the 13th to win the Triple Crown.</p><p dir="ltr">On Sunday, Smith was at Ruidoso Downs in Lincoln County, New Mexico, to sign posters for a fundraiser for the <a href="https://pdjf.org/">Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund</a> and he also led the post parade for 7th race at Ruidoso Downs.</p><p dir="ltr">The 52-year-old Smith — the oldest jockey to earn the Triple Crown — grew up near Dexter, New Mexico, won his first race in 1982 at Santa Fe Downs and now has more than $314 million in earnings as he approaches 5,500 career wins.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><h2 dir="ltr">More News & Notes</h2><p dir="ltr">Canadian sensation Pink Lloyd (14-1-1 in 17 career starts) failed to make it 12 straight wins on Sunday, losing in the $100,000 Shepperton Stakes (6½ furlongs) for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds on the Tapeta surface of Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto as a massive 1/9 odds favorite, getting upset by winner Kingsport (1:51.61, win paid $39), who rallied to surprise from last place. Jockeyed by Eurico Rosa Da Silva, all 11 of the chestnut gelding and 2017 Canadian Horse of the Year Pink Lloyd’s successive wins were in graded stakes races at Woodbine. Jacks Escarpment was in 2nd in the sprint.</p><p dir="ltr"><img height="100" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/KeqGr_8APDxSIb-yzOOj4JKA0Ep76XNjFppWxntiN4xMEBUKWZE1duwoStxllnRMDWJzqNcThc9THanN06D1-FQ9XoaRfnCnuBYdIyqS2PN7PUCThTzbhSeDTC4S5nPPx57MkJ-R" width="624" /></p><p dir="ltr">Steve Asmussen-trained and Kentucky-bred Filly Mia Mischief (4-3-0 in 8 career starts) finished out of the money for the first time in her career in the 11-horse, $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on Sunday as the Edward Coletti, Jr.-trained monster longshot Dixie Serenade (47/1, paid $97.50) pulled off the upset and provided the big payday in the 1½-mile dirt race (1:16.57) with Classy Act (paid $7.50 to Place) in 2nd and Sower (paid $5.70 to Show) in 3rd with a leg-weary Mia Mischief (2/1) crossing the line a disappointing 5th. A $2 Exacta (6-10) <a href="https://www.americasbestracing.net/races/2018-victory-ride-s">in the Victory Ride</a> paid a whopping $334.</p>