Humphrey Bogart (left) is in New York for the Belmont Derby InvitationalPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Bogart syndicate on American adventure
Preview: USA, Saturday 9.38pm BST (live on ATR)
Belmont Park: Belmont Derby Invitational (Grade 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo
THE syndicate owners of Derby fifth Humphrey Bogart (Richard Hannon/Sean Levey) are certainly getting their money's worth from the Lingfield Trial winner, who has travelled to New York for the Belmont Derby.
After taking his owners to Epsom and Royal Ascot, the Chelsea Thoroughbreds standard bearer joins the Ballydoyle pair Deauville and Long Island Sound as the three European-trained horses take on the locals in the the $1.25 million invitational event that provides the most valuable race on the richly endowed Stars & Stripes Festival card.
After coming sixth in the King Edward VII Stakes, Humphrey Bogart cuts back two furlongs; he is also likely to face faster ground than was the case at the royal meeting. "International invitations like these don't come around every day for syndicates like Chelsea Thoroughbreds so it's another opportunity and challenge that the owners were happy to accept and be part of," said James Ramsden, co-founder of the syndicate group alongside Richard Morecombe.
"Richard Hannon reports Humphrey in great form at home and he's always come out of his races really well, being as tough as his namesake! He arrived safe and sound in New York last Sunday to give him the best part of a week to settle in there."
Sean Levey, who is sponsored by the Chelsea team, keeps the ride. "We wanted Sean to go and ride him as Humphrey is a bit of a character and he gets on very well with him," said Ramsden.
"As far as the race goes, we are drawn ten of 13 and will have to be positive and go forwards from a draw like that. The horse has plenty of speed and has run well over six and a half furlongs last year on fiorm ground at Doncaster. If he can slot into the top 3rd of the runners - and most importantly settle there - we think he should run a big race off the final bend,staying on strongly as he always does."
O'Brien duo in opposition
Taking high rank among the British runner's rivals will be the Aidan O'Brien-trained pair. Dante runner-up Deauville (Jamie Spencer) must overcome the outside gate on the tight inner turf circuit but will be better suited by this trip than the 1m4f of the Derby, where he was a disappointing 11th. Long Island Sound (Colm O'Donoghue) also merits consideration, despite his winning streak of three being snapped at Royal Ascot - albeit by subsequent Eclipse winner Hawkbill.
"He ran very well over the trip at Royal Ascot when third to Hawkbill and the form has been well boosted since," said O'Brien. "He was stepping up in class and it was a very good run on ground he wouldn't have been mad about. When Deauville ran in the Investec Derby he appeared not to stay the trip in the soft ground. Better ground and dropping back in trip should suit him."
Awaiting the European visitors is a group of US three-year-olds without any obvious strength in depth. They are headed by Camelot Kitten (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz), who steps up in trip after a pair of Graded-stakes wins. "He likes Belmont and he is undefeated with the addition of blinkers," said Brown, the nation's top turf trainer, who also runs Beach Patrol (Javier Castellano) and Call Provision (John Velazquez). Both were narrowly beaten by their stablemate in recent outings.
After some poorish efforts, Airoforce (Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux) looked a bit sharper last time when second to Belmont Oaks favourite Catch A Glimpse in the Penn Mile. Ralis (Doug O'Neill/Mario Gutierrez), has been running okay on the Santa Anita lawn.
Ladbrokes: 5-2 Deauville, 5 Camelot Kitten, 6 Long Island Sound, 7 Airoforce, 10 Highland Sky, Humphrey Bogart, 14 Beach Patrol, Call Provision, 20 Aquaphobia, Surgical Strike, 33 Ralis, 50 Toughest Ombre, 100 Applicator
Also on Saturday
Belmont Park: Dwyer Stakes (Grade 3) 1m, dirt, 3yo (8.57pm BST, live on ATR)
A $500,000 contest in which Economic Model (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz) who has both starts at this venue, is likely to start favourite. He must concede 6lb to Swipe (Keith Desormeaux/Kent Desormeaux), who has been operated on for a breathing issue since finishing second to Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Belmont Park: Suburban Hcap (Grade 2) 1m2f, dirt, 4yo+ (10.13pm BST, live on ATR)
Downgraded to Grade 2 status in 2009, this storied contest cannot be far off returning to the top level - which seems appropriate with an honour roll featuring names like Tom Fool, Kelso, Dr.Fager, Forego, Easy Goer, Skip Away and Invasor.
After a downbeat run at Churchill Downs, Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Effinex (Jimmy Jerkens/Mike Smith) still heads the $500,000 event, which also features stablemate Shaman Ghost (Joel Rosario), last year's Queen's Plate winner and easy winner of the Brooklyn Invitational last time out.
Also in the mix is Mubtaahij (Kiaran McLaughlin/Irad Ortiz), having his first start since coming second to California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup.
Belmont Park: Belmont Sprint Championship (Grade 3) 7f, dirt, 3yo+ (11.23pm BST, live on ATR)
Last year's winner Private Zone (Brian Lynch/Martin Pedroza) finally makes his seasonal debut after being denied an intended outing a month ago when his trainer failed a drug test for marijuana and had his licence suspended for a short time