Arklow and Yoshida made favorable impressions winning turf stakes on Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) weekends, respectively, but neither made much impact in last month’s Belmont Derby (G1) behind a loose-on-the-lead Oscar Performance. The two colts will look to rebound Friday at Saratoga in the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) over 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf.
Making his turf stakes debut in the May 6 American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs off a Keeneland maiden win, Arklow made it two in a row over the softish ground, winning by a length over Good Samaritan, upset winner of last weekend’s Jim Dandy (G2).
Two weeks later, at Pimlico, it was the Japan-foaled Yoshida’s turn to wow a large crowd. Down as many as 23 lengths after a troubled break in the $100,000 James W. Murphy, also on wet ground, the Bill Mott-trained colt catapulted to the lead inside the final furlong and won handsomely by four lengths.
Arklow got the better of Oscar Performance on the soggy going in Kentucky, but the result was much different in the Belmont Derby on firm ground. While Oscar Performance was left alone up front to do as he pleased en route to a two-length win, Arklow began to retreat from fifth midway through the race and wound up trailing the field of 11. Yoshida, within a couple lengths of Oscar Performance early, faded to fifth as the 3-1 favorite.
Florent Geroux takes over the reins on Arklow, and Irad Ortiz Jr. is aboard Yoshida for the first time since the colt’s maiden win at Keeneland in April.
A neck and a head separated the top three finishers in the $100,000 Manila at Belmont Park on Independence Day, and the trio renew rivalry here. Bricks and Mortars rallied to edge Big Handsome to remain undefeated in three starts. It was the first stakes win for the Chad Brown trainee, while Big Handsome had previously taken the $100,000 Paradise Creek at Belmont and third-place finisher Secretary at War the $98,000 Woodhaven at Aqueduct.
Others in the lineup include Grade 3-placed Snap Decision, a recent Belmont allowance winner for Shug McGaughey; Arlington Classic (G3) third Parlor, last-out victor of a Churchill Downs allowance; and Makarios, sixth to Oscar Performance in both the Pennine Ridge (G3) and Belmont Derby.