World record-setter DISCO PARTNER earned an all-fees paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) on June 9 in the Jaipur Invitational Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park, and takes the next step toward the World Championships in November at Churchill Downs when facing six rivals in Saturday’s $150,000 Forbidden Apple Stakes back at Big Sandy.
The Christophe Clement-trained six-year-old successfully defended his title in the Jaipur, which enjoyed a grade increase from the 2017 running, and is following the same path he took to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Disco Partner prevailed by 3 1/4 lengths in the one-mile Forbidden Apple 12 months ago under returning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., then finished fourth with Tyler Gaffalione aboard in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga. Ortiz took back the mount and guided the gray son of Disco Rico to a 1 1/4-length score in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational and a rallying, half-length third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint to close out the year.
The pair returned April 7 at Keeneland for a third-place finish in the Shakertown Stakes (G2) prior to the Jaipur and will break from post 2 on Saturday.
“We gave him a few easy weeks after the Jaipur and he had a very good work last Sunday on the turf,” assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul said. “We were very happy with that and he came out of it in good order.
“Going back to a mile we’ll see what happens. As long as the turf is firm he should appreciate the going. The distance I’m not sure is a question mark for any reason. From five and half (furlongs) to a mile he’s been good. As long as the ground is firm we should be OK.”
POCKET CHANGE and BLIND AMBITION finished fifth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, and seventh, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, respectively, in the Jaipur last out. The lightly raced Pocket Change suffered his first loss from four career starts while making his stakes bow in that six-furlong affair for trainer Jason Servis. Blind Ambition brought a two-length win in the Elusive Quality Stakes into the Jaipur but faded a bit in the lane.
“His last breeze, his energy levels were good,” assistant trainer Byron Hughes said in regards to Blind Ambition. “He seems to like the Belmont turf course so we’re looking to give him one last shot on it before Saratoga.”
Pocket Change drew post 6 under Jose Lezcano while Blind Ambition breaks from post 5 with Luis Saez aboard on Saturday.
Trainer Chad Brown has two going in the Forbidden Apple – OFFERING PLAN and PROJECTED. The former rides a two-race win streak into the contest, including a 1 3/4-length title-defense victory in the Kingston Stakes. The latter captured the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup (G2) at Laurel Park last September and most recently ran third in the Monmouth Stakes (G2).
Projected goes from the far outside 7 post with Joel Rosario in the irons while Offering Plan retains the services of Javier Castellano from post 3.
Completing the Forbidden Apple field are Grade 3 hero VOODOO SONG, third in the Poker Stakes (G3) on June 17 for trainer Linda Rice, and Canadian shipper MR HAVERCAMP, a 4 3/4-length winner of the June 16 Steady Growth Stakes at Woodbine for conditioner Catherine Day-Phillips.
Earlier on Saturday at Belmont Park, a field of five New York-bred juveniles will line up in the $100,000 Rockville Centre Stakes going six furlongs.