December 3, 2023

Million winner Robert Bruce returns for Fort Marcy title defense

Robert Bruce and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. captured the Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" Arlington Million (G1) on August 11, 2018, at Arlington Park (c) Arlington Park/Coady Photography

The most significant stakes action outside Churchill Downs this weekend will occur Saturday at Belmont Park when three graded events will be part of a 12-race program.

For Arlington Million (G1) winner Robert Bruce, the $150,000 Fort Marcy (G3) over 1 1/8 miles on the turf will serve as a prep for next month’s Manhattan (G1). Robert Bruce won last year’s Fort Marcy in his U.S. debut, but missed by a length in the 10-furlong Manhattan. After his Million victory, Robert Bruce finished second in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) and seventh over testing ground in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

Trainer Chad Brown has two others besides Robert Bruce, both of whom are making their first North American appearance. Arrocha was a multiple Group 1 winner in Brazil, while Olympico was stakes-placed in France. Graded stakes winners Maraud, Doctor Mounty, and Dr. Edgar are also in the field.

Brown also has the likely favorite in the $200,000 Sheepshead Bay (G2) in Santa Monica, last-out winner of the Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Among the others in the 1 3/8-mile grass test for fillies and mares are 2018 winner Holy Helena and Lady Montdore.

Prince Lucky, easy winner of the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) and Hal’s Hope (G3) over the winter, will be a strong favorite to land the $200,000 Westchester (G3), a track-and-distance prep for next month’s Metropolitan H. (G1).