Making a case for and against Bolshoi Ballet in the Belmont Derby
A total of nine sophomores will travel 1 1/4 miles on the Belmont Park inner lawn in Saturday’s $1 million Belmont Derby (G1). The field is headlined by dual Group 3 victor #2 Bolshoi Ballet (7-5) from the barn of Aidan O’Brien.
A full brother to classic-placed Southern France, the European import has left a fine impression in his native land to this stage of development, so much so as to go postward at 11-8 odds in the historic Epsom Derby (G1) in his latest performance. While he was struck into by a rival and didn't love the soft going in that 1 1/2-mile outing, the son of Galileo is still a formidable foe and deserving favorite in his first run in the States.
For Bolshoi Ballet
The Coolmore colorbearer possesses immense potential and has proven to be quite capable at the 1 1/4-mile trip, as well, with a pair of standout tallies going 10 furlongs. He races for an expert conditioner who saddled a previous winner of the race when Deauville came out on top in 2016. And going off at small odds in the 11-horse Epsom Derby tells me a lot of what handicappers think of him overseas.
#5 Du Jour (9-2) and #6 Hard Love (5-2) are the pair of contenders that I expect to pose the biggest danger to the morning-line choice. The former has gone clear in each of his last three on the turf, led by a fantastic tally in the deep American Turf S. (G2) at Churchill Downs most recently. The Temple City colt shows five local morning drills in preparation for his first start under Bill Mott’s care.
The latter is 3-for-4 in his career, and has the running style and pedigree to stay the trip for Thomas. Talented son of Kitten’s Joy is a dual winner on the surface, as well, and he could be peaking in his third start of the season. The sophomore will always be in the mix with Manny Franco in the controls, and he rates a big chance in my opinion.
- $20 exacta 2 with 5,6 ($40)
- $10 trifecta key 2 with 5,6 ($20)
Against Bolshoi Ballet
Any horse making his first run in the U.S. is something of a wildcard. On many occasions, the turns are much tighter here than they are in Europe. The ground can often be firmer in the states, as well (although with the forecast, that might not apply on Saturday). It is really hard to determine which Thoroughbreds will take to the new surroundings, course layouts, and shape of the races. So, despite how formidable Bolshoi Ballet appears to be, it is surely possible that he doesn’t take to Belmont Park.
For those who are looking to toss the well-bred colt, the duo of Du Jour and Hard Love would be a great starting point for any play.
- $1 trifecta 5,6 with 1,5,6,8 with all ($42)