True North S. (G2) — Race 9 (5:17 p.m. ET)
Reigning champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior looms as an overwhelming favorite Friday in the $300,000 True North S. (G2) at Belmont Park. A winner in 10 of 14 lifetime starts, Jackie’s Warrior is 2-for-2 so far this season, including a four-length triumph in the Churchill Downs (G1) on May 7.
“He’s just a brilliant horse, he’s absolutely brilliant,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “He’s everything you would want in a racehorse mentally or physically and it’s quite obvious how fast he’s been. He has a tremendous attitude, a true racehorse. He has maintained his Grade 1 winning form this year, and the only difference we’re looking for this year is to finish it off by winning the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint [G1]).”
Jackie’s Warrior will tote 124 pounds in the 6 1/2-furlong True North, six more than each of his five rivals.
Baby Yoda, distantly placed in the Malibu (G1) and Vosburgh (G2) last season, returns to stakes company following back-to-back starter allowance wins in Kentucky for Bill Mott. Sound Money was a clear second in the one-mile Westchester (G3) in his stakes debut last out, while Mr Phil enters off three straight wins in overnight company.
Bed o’ Roses S. (G2) — Race 3 (1:58 p.m. ET)
Earlier in the card, only four fillies and mares will line up in the $300,000 Bed o’ Roses S. over seven furlongs. However, it’s a powerhouse field for its size.
Obligatory will seek her fourth graded win in a row, with the Juddmonte homebred most recently claiming the Derby City Distaff (G1) at Churchill with a last-to-first rally. The gray might be at a tactical disadvantage, though, as Bella Sofia, who is 4-for-5 at Belmont, might prove the controlling speed. The Rudy Rodriguez trainee has three graded wins herself, including the Test (G1), Gallant Bloom H. (G2), and Vagrancy H. (G3).
“There’s a couple horses in there that could go – but it’s not 44 (second) speed,” said Mott, who trains Obligatory. “She has been ridden closer. Down at Gulfstream there was no pace in there and Gaffalione kept her closer and she went on and won (the Hurricane Bertie [G3]).”
Perhaps likely to track closest to Bella Sofia is Glass Ceiling, who has won five of her last six, the lone setback being by a head. Recent wins by her have included the Distaff H. (G3) by five lengths and the Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel.