Quick profiles of internationals in Belmont Derby & Oaks

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July 4th, 2015

If you're cramming for today's Grade 1s -- the Belmont Derby (8TH scheduled for 4:32 p.m. EDT) and Belmont Oaks (10TH scheduled for 5:46) -- here are quick profiles of the four international shippers.

First, the Belmont Derby duo:

Postulation exits a career-best performance in the 1 1/4-mile Silver S. versus older horses at the Curragh, where he rallied from the tail of the field to overtake Jim Bolger's wily veteran Parish Hall (who tried to bite him in the vicinity of the wire). Parish Hall is a very solid yardstick, as the winner of the 2011 Dewhurst (Eng-G1) who continues to ply his trade honorably in tough company. Not only did Postulation run him down fair and square, but he did so despite having to alter course when a possible seam between foes never materialized.

Gelded in advance of his sophomore debut (so not in fact a first-time gelding as initially listed), Postulation was second in that April 4 event to Success Days, who went on to air in both the Ballysax (Ire-G3) and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (Ire-G3) before suffering an injury in the Epsom Derby (Eng-G1). Next time out , the Juddmonte Farms homebred defeated Aidan O'Brien's The Happy Prince, who later captured a premier handicap under top weight of 136 pounds and then finished runner-up to high-class filly Anthem Alexander in the Lacken (Ire-G3).

Trained by the masterful Dermot Weld, Postulation is ridden by his stable jockey Pat Smullen, an astute tactician in the saddle. The son of Harlan's Holiday and Group 1-placed Supposition is consistent, improving, and a solid contender at 10-1.

Canndal ships in from France for Mikel Delzangles (trainer of 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf [G1] star Flotilla), and the Aga Khan homebred is likely better than his bare form suggests. In his only try on good ground, he wired an about 1 1/4-mile event at Longchamp and spurted clear in style. The son of Medicean has otherwise encountered going that may be softer than ideal. Two starts back in the Prix Hocquart (Fr-G2), he set the pace comfortably until challenged in the stretch, when he yielded to Andre Fabre's unbeaten Ampere (who's entered in the Grand Prix de Paris [Fr-G1] and Arc [Fr-G1]). It's disconcerting that Hocquart runner-up Cape Clear Island has since let the form down, but at the same time, Canndal was possibly not seen to best effect going about 1 3/8 miles on softish ground.

Back down to this distance for the Prix Ridgway at Compiegne, Canndal took a while to pick up from just off the pace, but just as he was beginning to get into gear, he was badly hampered. Lucky not to come down, or unseat the rider, he passed the post a close third. The wayward winner, Zafiro, was disqualified to third, and Canndal promoted to second. That also came on good-to-soft.

Canndal, who's nominated to the August 15 Secretariat (G1) at Arlington along with entries closer to home in the Grand Prix de Paris and Preis von Europa (Ger-G1), is eligible to be happier on Belmont's quicker surface, and his tactical speed is another helpful asset in U.S. conditions. He is out of a stakes-placed three-quarter sister to French 2000 Guineas (Fr-G1) winner Clodovil, and a half-sister to Group 3 scorer Colombian, who placed in an Arlington Million (G1).

On to the Oaks duo:

Outstanding has more potential than accomplishment at this point in her career, but in fairness, her full brother Magician didn't set the world alight until his three-year-old season either. Two-for-two this year for Aidan O'Brien, the Coolmore runner comes off a front-running success in the Naas Oaks Trial at this 1 1/4-mile distance. The form is easy to crab, since the runner-up is still a maiden. On the other hand, most of her beaten rivals are entered in the Irish Oaks (Ire-G1). Outstanding is herself engaged in that Curragh classic, as well as such Group 1 contests as the Nassau, Yorkshire Oaks and Matron. Yet it's tempting to conclude that connections saw this as a more attainable opportunity for Group 1 black-type.

Although her price is contracted precisely because of those connections, Outstanding is an April 28 foal who still looked leggy and unfurnished on the video from Naas. She's probably strengthening into her frame. While the daughter of Galileo must improve off what she's shown so far, she remains on an upward curve.

Olorda, the latest Martin Schwartz acquisition to try these shores, was a distant third behind record-setting Queen's Jewel in the Prix Saint-Alary (Fr-G1). Although Queen's Jewel flopped next time in the French Oaks (Fr-G1), Saint-Alary runner-up Wekeela came back to triumph in the Prix Chloe (Fr-G3). That's respectable form, but the concern is that Olorda appeared one-paced while boxing on for third, and she could find herself short of gear changes here as well.

Indeed, Olorda gave the same vibe even in her victory two starts back in the Prix Vanteaux (Fr-G3). The Michael Figge trainee was going nowhere, and set to finish no better than fourth, before finally surging to deny the well-regarded Vedouma. That came on very soft ground, however, and she just might have gotten better traction in it late. It's by no means certain that she would have done the same in faster conditions. Admittedly, Olorda did hack up at Munich on ground listed as good, but her outings at Longchamp leave a nagging question.