Breeders' Cup Bearings at Belmont: Handicapping the BC Challenge Races

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Alastair Bull

September 29th, 2017

Belmont Graded Stakes Preview for September 30, 2017

by Alastair Bull

Belmont Park’s fall meeting gets serious this weekend with four graded stakes races, all of which could have a bearing on the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Del Mar in early November.

Two of the races are official Breeders’ Cup Challenge contests, meaning the winner automatically earns a berth in the relevant Breeders’ Cup race.

The first is the six-furlong Vosburgh Stakes (G1), which earns the winner a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). El Deal is the morning-line favorite at 6-5 after winning his last three, the most recent being the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap by eight lengths at Saratoga July 29.

The interesting runner is Mr. Crow, the morning-line second favorite at 2-1; he hasn’t taken on stakes company but has been highly impressive winning two of his three starts. Also due respect is Takaful, who finished second to Practical Joke in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1).

The other “win and you’re in” race is the 1 ½-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1), which earns an entry to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The favorite in a strong field at 3-1 is the 3-year-old Oscar Performance. He seeks his fourth consecutive victory, following triumphs in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and the Secretariat Stakes (G1).

He faces top older horses Sadlers Joy and Money Multiplier, the first two in the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) at Saratoga, and Arlington Million (G1) winner Beach Patrol.

The other grade one on the card is the 1 1/8-mile Beldame Stakes for fillies and mares, which is a good lead-up to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) despite not carrying “win and you’re in” status. This year it includes 3-5 morning-line favorite Elate, winner of the Alabama Stakes (G1) at her last start. Her toughest opponents look to be Eskenformoney, Verve’s Tale, and Money’soncharlotte.

Also running is the grade three Pilgrim Stakes, which could be a useful lead-up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Maiden winners Voting Control and Maraud are the two morning-line favorites.

Be sure to bet the Breeders' Cup and the Challenge races here at BetAmerica!