Mendelssohn will look to recapture the form that led to his 18 1/2-length win in the Group 2 UAE Derby, taking aim at a seven-horse field in the 101st running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds on Saturday, Stars & Stripes Day, at Belmont Park.
Carded as Race 6 with an approximate post time of 4:36 p.m., the Dwyer, contested at one mile, will be shown live on NBC, which will air coverage from 4:30-6 p.m. followed by Belmont Park Live from 6-7 p.m.
Owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier's and Derrick Smith, Mendelssohn will look to rebound off a disappointing last-place effort in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 5, where he was bumped at the start and again banged around in traffic before being eased to the wire.
But trainer Aidan O'Brien will try and coax the Scat Daddy colt back to his previous performances, which include a one-length win over Untamed Domain to win the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on November 3 at Del Mar, a win in the 32red Patton on March 9 at Dundalk in Ireland and a demolishing of the UAE Derby Field on March 31 at Meydan, which helped make Mendelssohn exceed a million dollars in earnings.
Internationally acclaimed jockey Ryan Moore, a nine-time Breeders' Cup winner who rode Mendelssohn to victory in both the Breeders' Cup and UAE Derby, as well as in the Kentucky Derby, will have the return call from post 6.
His stablemate, Seahenge, ran fifth in the UAE Derby before finishing seventh in his first U.S. appearance in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on May 5 at Churchill Downs. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will leave from the rail.
Mendelssohn isn't the only entry looking to bounce back from a difficult Kentucky Derby trip. WinStar Farm and Repole Stable's Noble Indy ran 17th in the Run for the Roses and his bad luck continued when he brushed the gate en route to finishing last of 10 in the Belmont Stakes on June 9.
Noble Indy, who drew the second-to-last outside posts in both of his starts in the Classics, started his 3-year-old campaign in impressive fashion, winning an optional claimer before running third in the Grade 2 Risen Star on February 17 at Fair Grounds. The Take Charge Indy colt then registered a personal-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure when he fended off Lone Sailor by a neck to win the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 24 at Fair Grounds, earning him his Derby spot.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who was aboard for the Louisiana Derby victory, will again be in the irons, drawing post 4.
Wertheimer and Frere's Rugbyman broke his maiden at second asking at the Dwyer distance on May 13 at Belmont. He handled the stretch out to 1 1/16 miles with aplomb in the Easy Goer, running second to Prince Lucky by a neck in the Easy Goer on June 9, and Motion said he has confidence in the Tapit colt making his third straight appearance on Big Sandy.
“It's not changing too much and I think it makes sense to keep him there and run him back at a similar distance around one turn,” Motion said. “I worry about it a little because he's taken on a lot quickly, but we obviously like him a lot.”
Jose Ortiz, who was aboard for all three of his previous career starts, will ride once again from post 3.
Firenze Fire started his year off well with a win in the Jerome on January 13 at Aqueduct before running second behind Avery Island in the Grade 3 Withers on February 3 at the Big A. The son of Poseidon's Warrior has not finished on the board in his last three starts, posting back-to-back fourth-place efforts in the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 2 Wood Memorial, respectively, before tiring late to finish 11th in the Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Jason Servis, Firenze Fire will look to capitalize on a two-month break, drawing post 7 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.
Rounding out the field is Seven Trumpets, a Dale Romans trainee who will be returning to graded stakes company following an optional claiming win on May 31 at Churchill, in leaving from post 2; and Fixedincome Larry, making his first stakes appearance in his fifth career start for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, breaking from post 5.
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