Trainer Aidan O'Brien will be represented by multiple group winner Just Wonderful in the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational and Blenheim Palace and Cape of Good Hope in next Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational as the first legs of the newly-minted Turf Triple series gets underway.
Just Wonderful, a bay daughter of Dansili out of the Montjeu mare Wading, captured the Group 3 Flame of Tara Irish E.B.F. at the Curragh in September and two starts later was victorious in the Group 2 Shadwell Rockfel at Newmarket. She completed her 2-year-old campaign with a good fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Winless in three sophomore starts, including an eighth last out in the Group 1 Coronation at Ascot, Just Wonderful comes from the same family as last year's Belmont Oaks-winner Athena.
Blenheim Palace, by Galileo and out of the Storm Cat dam Meow, is a full brother to stallion and four-time Group 1-winner Churchill, who was the top-rated 2-year-old colt in Europe in 2016. Blenheim Palace graduated in April over 10 furlongs of soft turf at Navan and followed up with a second in the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown at the same distance on yielding turf.
On Saturday, the talented chestnut finished a strong second in the Group 3 Full of Surprises International at the Curragh over 1 1/4-miles of good going. The quick turnback echoes O'Brien's success in last year's Belmont Oaks with Athena, who finished third in the Group 1 Pretty Polly just six days before her Belmont Oaks triumph.
Cape of Good Hope, a full-brother to world-travelling multiple Group/Grade 1-winner Highland Reel, graduated in April over 10 furlongs of good going at Epsom. After finishing fourth on June 2 in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club, Cape of Good Hope followed up on June 20 with a an off-the-board effort in the Group 3 Hampton Court on soft turf at Ascot.
The O'Brien contingent is slated to arrive in New York on Tuesday and clear quarantine for training on July 4.
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