The inaugural $5.25 million Turf Triple Series, featuring the Turf Trinity and Turf Tiara for sophomores over three legs at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, kicks off on Saturday, July 6 as part of the Stars & Stripes Festival to be broadcast live nationwide on NBC.
The Turf Trinity begins with the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational on July 6. The first leg of the filly Turf Tiara will be the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, both Grade 1 events contested at 10 furlongs.
Trainer Chad Brown enjoyed a successful Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, including wins in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge and Grade 3 Wonder Again for fillies – races which offered the top three finishers an automatic berth in their respective first legs of the Turf Triple Series.
Peter Brant's Demarchelier, a son of Dubawi bred in England by Newsells Park Stud, remained perfect in three career starts with a rallying score in the Pennine Ridge to best Seismic Wave by a neck, with Social Paranoia a length further back in third.
The previous two winners of the Pennine Ridge – Catholic Boy and Oscar Performance – both went on to victory in the Belmont Derby Invitational.
Demarchelier breezed four furlongs in 49.45 seconds on the Belmont inner turf this morning in his first breeze back. He was a debut winner, by a head, over familiar foe Seismic Wave in November and won by three-quarters of a length in his seasonal debut in an April 12 Keeneland allowance.
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Seismic Wave, a son of Tapit trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, breezed four furlongs in 51.66 on June 13 on the Saratoga dirt training track.
“He's pointed to the Belmont Derby as long as he continues to do well,” said Leana Willaford, Mott's Belmont-based assistant.
With a record of 2-2-1 from six starts, Seismic Wave graduated at third asking on the Gulfstream turf in February and followed up with a neck score in the Cutler Bay at the Hallandale oval. On May 4 at Churchill Downs, the late-closing chestnut rallied from tenth to finish fourth, defeated less than two lengths, in the Grade 2 American Turf behind Turf Trinity contenders Digital Age, A Thread of Blue and Social Paranoia.
On Saturday, the Elkstone Group's graded-stakes placed Social Paranoia, trained by Todd Pletcher, breezed four furlongs in 50.20 on the Belmont dirt training track. The dark bay son of Street Boss finished third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim, won by Forty Under, to close out his juvenile campaign. He returned in March to graduate in his seasonal debut by a widening eight lengths at Gulfstream ahead of completing the trifecta in the American Turf and Pennine Ridge.
Pletcher said he was pleased with Social Paranoia's effort in the Pennine Ridge and will point the colt to the Belmont Derby.
“It was a good effort. For finishing third, that automatically gets him an invite to the Belmont Derby. It's a lucrative series and hopefully we'll have the chance to be involved in some of them. He breezed very well,” said Pletcher.
The Pletcher-trained Clint Maroon saw his three-race win streak snapped in the Pennine Ridge. The Oasis Dream grey put back-to-back wins together at Gulfstream over the winter before shipping to Aqueduct in April where he won the Woodhaven by four lengths over a yielding turf.
Clint Maroon was part of a pace battle in the Pennine Ridge, which Pletcher said may have been his undoing.
“We felt like the pace didn't really unfold the way we thought it would. Being a little closer, we got a bit of pace pressure and I think he just got a little tired at the end from that. It wasn't a bad performance, said Pletcher. “We're either going to go in the Manila [July 4, Belmont] or the Belmont Derby. I'm not sure if he's invited yet, but we'll keep both options open.”
The Wonder Again featured a Brown-trained exacta of Cambier Parc and Newspaperofrecord.
Cambier Parc, out of Canada's 2007 Horse of the Year Sealy Hill, overtook the free-wheeling Newspaperofrecord for a 1 1/4-length score. Kelsey's Cross, trained and part-owned by Patrick Biancone, rallied from last of five to finish third, four lengths in arrears of the runner-up.
Brown has successfully used the Wonder Again on two previous occasions as a springboard to the Belmont Oaks with Lady Eli  and New Money Honey .
The Turf Tiara continues Friday, August 2 at Saratoga with the inaugural $750,000 Saratoga Oaks, held at 1 3/16-miles (1,900 meters) on the Saratoga lawn and broadcast live nationally on FS2, kicking off Whitney weekend festivities.
The second jewel of the Turf Trinity, the inaugural $1 million Saratoga Derby, will be contested at 1 3/16-miles (1,900 meters) on the Saratoga green on Sunday, August 4 and featured live on FS1.
The Turf Triple Series reaches its conclusion on Saturday, September 7 at beautiful Belmont Park with the inaugural edition of the $1 million Jockey Club Derby, third leg of the Turf Trinity, to be aired live across the country on NBC.
The final jewel of the Turf Tiara, the first-ever $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks slated for September 7 at Belmont Park, will be contested at 1 3/8-miles (2,200 meters) on the turf, and aired live on NBC, as part of an action-packed weekend of racing to raise the curtain on the Belmont fall meet.
For more information on the Turf Triple Series, please visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/turf-triple-series.
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