Five Key Takeaways from Belmont’s Stars & Stripes Festival

IMPRESSIVE RETURN: Code of Honor, competing for the first time because he was elevated to second behind Country House when stewards disqualified Maximum Security for interference in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, asserted himself in the wide-open 3-year-old division with an effortless victory in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes. “I’m excited for the remainder for the summer,” said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “This was our game plan and, so far, step one functioned .” The next step would be the July 27 Jim Dandy Stakes as a prep for the Aug. 24 Runhappy Travers Stakes. McGaughey is optimistic that his Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes winner could emerge as portion of this class. “I think he’s as good as any of these,” he explained. “He’s going to have to keep improving as we go along, but I believe he will do this.” TIMELY BREAKTHROUGH: Though Henley’s Joy had been not able to break through in his first six graded-stakes starts, including a distant 13th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, owner Jeffrey Bloom and coach Mike Maker were convinced he belonged in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes. Their faith was rewarded when the Kitten’s Joy colt delivered at 20.80-1 in the opening leg of their Turf Trinity with Jose Lezcano aboard. “It’s such a big race to acquire and it is so significant,” Bloom said. “But with this specific horse, he’s had the worst racing luck and he has been so fair, so many rough trips. It was just so gratifying to see him have the ability to show everybody how talented he is.” PERFECT TIMING: Trainers grapple with how long off to provide a horse between starts. George”Rusty” Arnold wasn’t any different when he decided to point Concrete Rose toward the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes after her strong victory in the Grade 3 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 3. He opted to forego a training race. “She is a small filly. There isn’t a whole lot to her,” he clarified. “I do not need to train down her nothing.” His willingness was rewarded with an emphatic win in the opening leg of their Turf Tiara. The Twirling Candy filly won’t have too long for her next start’s luxury. Arnold is focused on the center leg of their Turf Tiara, the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks on Aug. 2 at 1??3/16 kilometers at Saratoga Race Course. “We will run in another one, if there’s no problem,” he said. “it is a great series. We want to support it”

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