The third running of the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Championship on Saturday at Belmont Park will feature the winners of the first two editions of the race in stablemates Disco Partner and Pure Sensation, both owned and bred by Patricia Generazio and trained by Christophe Clement, co-headlining the field of eight.
One of four stakes races on the day comprising the October Racing Festival alongside the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame, and the Grade 2, $500,000 Hill Prince, coverage of the October Racing Festival will be nationally broadcast on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m.
A 7-year-old a son by Zensational, Pure Sensation will look to register his second career victory in the Belmont Turf Sprint since winning the inaugural edition in 2016. In his most recent start, he captured the Grade 3 Turf Monster on September 3 at Parx Racing.
Kicking off his 2018 campaign with a second-place finish in an allowance optional-claiming race on April 13 at Gulfstream Park. Pure Sensation followed with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Jaipur on June 9 at Belmont and subsequently ran third in the Grade 3 Parx Dash on July 7 before winning the Turf Monster.
A New York-bred 6-year-old son of Disco Rico, Disco Partner will look to get back to the winner's circle for the first time since winning the Grade 2 Jaipur. The defending champion of the Belmont Turf Sprint, he encountered trouble at the break to finish fifth in the Forbidden Apple on July 14 and ran third in the Grade 3 Troy on August 5 on a yielding turf course.
“Both horses are doing well,” said Christophe Lorieul, longtime assistant to Clement. “Obviously, Pure Sensation coming out of the win at Parx in the Turf Monster. He ran well that day, and Disco Partner has been a little bit unlucky in his last two starts. With the firmness of the ground is a big factor for him but with the race going at his usual distance, we hope he gives a good account of himself. They have two different styles. Pure Sensation is usually close or on the lead and Disco Partner is more of a stalker. They both deserve a shot to run here and we'll try to win it again.”
Drawing the rail, Disco Partner will have the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr. Pure Sensation will leave from post 5 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Gidu, will make his first start on the turf since finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame at Saratoga for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Zayat Stables.
A 3-year-old son of Frankel, Gidu broke his maiden on the turf in his second career start and went on to finish second by a head in the Grade 3 Dania Beach on February 3 at Gulfstream. Winning the Columbia at Tampa Bay Downs and the Paradise Creek at Belmont, he then shipped overseas to Ascot where he finished a respectable sixth in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup on June 22.
Following a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame, he ran seventh in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga.
Gidu will leave from post 8 with Joel Rosario in the irons.
Pletcher will also saddle Blind Ambition for Gainesway Stable. A 4-year-old son of Tapit, he has two wins from four starts at Belmont including a victory in the Elusive Quality on April 28 at Belmont Park.
Rounding out the field is Maniacal for Three Diamonds Farm and trainer Mike Maker; Proforma for DARRS, Inc. and trainer Michael Stidham; Pocket Change for owners Gary and Mary West and trainer Jason Servis and Simon Bar Sinister for Holly Crest Farm and trainer John Mazza.
The Clement barn will also be represented on Saturday by Robert S. Evans' Have At It in the Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince for sophomores at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf.
Have At It, a homebred chestnut colt by Kitten's Joy, moved to stakes company following a three-quarter-length win against optional claimers going 1 1/8 miles in July at Belmont, finished sixth in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame on August 3 at Saratoga behind Raging Bull. He followed with a close runner-up finish to Rose's Vision in the restricted Better Talk Now on August 27.
Have At It will be ridden by David Cohen from the rail.
Headlining the 44th edition of the Hill Prince is Peter Brant's Raging Bull, who boasts back-to-back graded stakes wins this summer for trainer Chad Brown. The French-bred Dark Angel colt got his nose down in time to win the Hall of Fame over yielding turf and came back with a 1 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Saranac contested over good going at the Hill Prince's 1 1/8-mile distance on September 1.
Raging Bull drew post 3. Regular jockey Joel Rosario has the return call.
Also entered in the Hill Prince are Grade 2 Del Mar Derby winner Ride a Comet; Golden Brown, an upset winner of the Grade 3 Kent in July and fifth in both the Grade 1 Haskell and Saranac this summer; Dueling Grounds Derby runner-up Cullum Road; March to the Arch, winner of the Toronto Cup in July and third in the Saranac last time out; Prioritize, exiting a third-place finish in the Better Talk Now; and Woodhaven winner Sand Dancer.
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