Belmont Park's Jockey Club Derby Invitational 2021 Entries: Bolshoi Ballet's Encore

Internationally-known trainer Aidan O'Brien sends Bolshoi Ballet back to Belmont for the JC Derby. See what his chances are like in this preview of the race!
Internationally-known trainer Aidan O'Brien sends Bolshoi Ballet back to Belmont for the JC Derby. See what his chances are like in this preview of the race!

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Race 10: 1½ (Turf), Jockey Club Derby Invitational S., Purse $1 Million, 3 (Saturday)

The final leg of the NYRA “Turf Triple,” is represented in this important contest on the Belmont Park calendar. Not only is this part of that triumvirate, it is also a “prep” race for the BC Longines Turf (G1) … “Win and You’re In” is on the line. A distance test, this year’s contest brings together a solid group of “turfers” that will be looking to notch a massive “Non-G” score. The BC Turf (G1) gives the winner the chance to take on the very best that the world has to offer.  

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Tango Tango Tango (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: J. Sisterson):

Trainer Jack Sisterson and Flavien Prat team up … honestly, I am not sure that happens all that much. Talk about a stretch out! This colt out of Tourist is going way longer than he ever has before. How well that will go is anyone’s guess. This is a sire with some major upside, and maybe Prat can improve upon that game set of efforts his mount had back at Arlington. With “Blinkers Off,” that is always a good sign …

Grade: B-


#2 Yibir (GB) (Jky: J. Spencer/Trn: C. Appleby):

When trainer Charlie Appleby shows for a race, anywhere on the map, bettors need to take notice. As Godolphin’s chief conditioner, he commands an impressive array of runners that have the ability to compete at the highest levels. Earlier this summer, he sent a string to Belmont, and they did not disappoint. This gelding out of Dubawi (IRE) is a not a “2nd stringer” by any means. With James Doyle aboard in a Group 2 at York last month over good ground, he won nicely by more than a length. Easily a bulwark in this spot against O’Brien’s entry. The excellent Jamie Spencer comes in to take the mount …

Grade: A-


#3 Tokyo Gold (FR) (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: K. Satoshi):

If trainer Kobayashi Satoshi is not a name you are familiar with, then you probably do not follow international racing much. He ships all over, and there is little doubt that his homebred out of Kendargent (FR) was impressive in the 1st Leg of the “Turf Triple” at Belmont back in July. Finishing 2nd to O’Brien’s charge at odds of 16/1 speaks to his ability to rate, and come with a furious accelerator towards the end. Johnny V once again gets the call, and after a lackluster SPA Meet, he is probably looking forward to a fresh start. Well-bred for the grass … he is one to watch.

Grade: B+


#4 Soldier Rising (GB) (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: C. Clement):

In the 2nd Leg of the “Turf Triple” it was a surprise near the top of the results when State of Rest, and this Clement runner finished 1-2. Everyone expected O’Brien’s entry to sweep the field, but he did not respond. Out of Frankel (GB), Clement took this one and had him ready to fire. Now, he is going to try and do it again. The pedigree is present, and having Irad Ortiz in the saddle makes good sense. Madaket and Michael Dubb made a sound investment after this gelding made the jump from the provinces to Longchamp. One to consider seriously as a 2nd choice, depending on the price come post time ... Rule of thumb: if he is 6/1 or higher, this might be the wager of the afternoon.

Grade: B+


#5 Step Dancer (Jky: D. Davis/Trn: B. Tagg):

If there is an overmatched runner in this field, then it probably belongs to Barclay Tagg. While this son of War Dancer, and thus War Front, has experience on the grass at “Non-G” levels, he is sorely lacking when it comes to distance tests. Certainly, Dylan Davis is a gutsy rider, but he is no Ryan Moore, Luis Saez, Irad Ortiz, or Flavien Prat when it comes to “settling” decision-making. Tagg has a long history of impressive training, but this one is going to be on the outside … looking in … at the Euros.

Grade: C


#6 Experienced (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: J. Thomas):

The name of Jonathan Thomas’ entry is a bit misleading because the gelding out of Temple City is short when it comes to “it.” There is major potential mind you, but Augustin Stables may have to wait for it to come. Jose Ortiz rides in what is shaping up to be a very difficult spot. Finishing 5th in the Virginia Derby (G3) at Colonial Downs was a disappointment. Maybe the only way to go is up from here … that might suit. Still, Thomas is an impressive conditioner with much to offer.

Grade: C


#7 Slicked Back (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: B. Cox):

 The expansive maneuvers of Brad Cox at NYRA continue to be progressive. He made his mark during the Saratoga Meet, and plans to continue that trend at Belmont. It is not like he does not come up this way often, it is just that he is competing at some of the highest levels more regularly. His entry in this turf spot is a gelding out of Quality Road that has even better bloodlines for grass on the dam side. Jerry Marks’ charge was 2nd in the Virginia Derby to a Graham Motion runner, but I am still trying to figure out just how tough that contest truly was when it came to the 10 that were entered. It was a good showing nonetheless, and we would expect a step forward this time around, as the excellent Luis Saez rides for the 1st time. A chance to hit the board might be the “best case” scenario.

Grade: B-


#8 Bolshoi Ballet (IRE) (Jky: R. Moore/Trn: A. O’Brien):

Disappointment reigned in the Saratoga Derby (G1), as Aidan O’Brien’s well-bred turf distance specialist failed as the favorite. This son of Galileo simply did not fire, and Ryan Moore was made to watch as others crossed the wire before him. Nothing like a shot at redemption, and that is precisely what he is going to get. Back at Belmont, the site of his superb win in the Belmont Derby (G1), the connections are ready to visit the winner’s circle once again. Will it happen? It is entirely possible, but I am inclined to look elsewhere just for the sake of variety. If the colt beats me, I tip my cap to him …

Grade: B+


Join us Saturday for all of our selections! Should be a great set of races from Belmont Park!

Belmont Park Race 10 17:45 ET

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