Incredible O'Brien improver Baron Samedi breaks new ground in Belmont Gold Cup
Baron Samedi is set to write the next chapter in his remarkable story when bidding for a sensational seven-timer in Friday's $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup (10.48) and is one of two runners on the card at Belmont Park for Joseph O'Brien.
Having failed to feature in his first three races before suffering back-to-back handicap defeats off a rating of 65, the Lech Racing-owned runner turned a massive corner after being gelded, going from strength to strength to win his next five starts.
His season culminated with a Group 2 win in the Prix du Conseil de Paris – beating last month's Prix Ganay scorer Mare Australis – and he picked up where he left off this term with a game victory in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan in April.
The leading trainer has secured the services of hall-of-fame jockey John Velazquez for his first runners at Belmont Park – the man O'Brien picked off in the final furlong of the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf when recording a memorable success aboard St Nicholas Abbey.
"It's great to have Johnny on board and hopefully we'll be able to get a share of the prize money," said O'Brien.
"Baron Samedi has been progressive for the last year or so and he ran a big race on his first start of the year. We think he'll get the distance and he'll be competitive."
The Owning Hill handler is also set to be represented by Group 3 winner Thundering Nights in an excellent edition of the $750,000 Grade 2 New York Stakes (10.15).
The four-year-old was beaten half a length by Broome on her seasonal reappearance in the Alleged Stakes, with last month's Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Helvic Dream back in fourth.
"She had a good run at the Curragh last time and we think the ten furlongs will suit her well," said O'Brien, who landed the 2019 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita with Iridessa.
He added of the logistics involved in his runners making the transatlantic journey: "It's been slightly more tricky than travelling previously but everyone has been very helpful.
"Adrian Beaumont in the International Racing Bureau and Mark Hackett in our office managed to work it out between them and our staff have been able to go with the horses. Everyone involved deserves credit for making it possible."
Follow your favourites with our amazing Horse Tracker feature. Add up to 1,000 horses to your stable, filter them and keep up to date with automatic email alerts. Join Members' Club Ultimate now and never miss a winner again!