40 THE QUEENS COURIER • FATHER’S DAY • JUNE 8, 2017 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM father’s day Photo courtesy of the New York Racing Association Wide-open Belmont Stakes leads a day of high-stakes horse racing BY ROBERT POZARYCKI Can a Belmont Stakes without the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners still be intriguing? Of course! You just have to fi nd the right horse with the right story. In this case, the most intriguing storyline might belong to Classic Empire, who stands to be one of only two horses entered in this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes to run in all three legs of this year’s Triple Crown. Last year’s champion juvenile thoroughbred, Classic Empire won the Arkansas Derby and was selected by many as the one to beat in the Kentucky Derby. But on Derby Day, Classic Empire had trouble out of the gate and couldn’t handle the muddy Churchill Downs oval, fi nishing fourth to the winner and betting favorite, Always Dreaming. Th en in the Preakness Stakes three weeks ago, Classic Empire and Always Dreaming engaged in a speed duel for the fi rst 6 furlongs of the race. Always Dreaming couldn’t keep up and gave way in the stretch at Pimlico and suddenly Classic Empire looked like a sure thing to runaway with the race. But then came Cloud Computing, who skipped the Kentucky Derby aft er running third in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He ran down Classic Empire and beat him by a head on the line. With the connections of both Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing skipping the Belmont Stakes, Classic Empire -- trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux -- will likely be favored to fi nally reach the winner’s circle in the Triple Crown series. To do that, he’ll have to overcome not only the daunting 1 ½ miles of the Belmont Stakes, but also as many as 12 challengers, according to the Daily Racing Form. Th ey include Lookin at Lee, the only other horse who ran in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes entered in the Belmont; Senior Investment, the third-place fi nisher in the Preakness; Meantime, who fi nished second in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park, a prep race for the Belmont Stakes; Irish War Cry and J Boys Echo, the respective winners of the Wood Memorial and Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct who both fi nished off the board in the Kentucky Derby; and Epicharis, a horse from Japan who fi nished second in the UAE Derby in Dubai back in March. Th e Belmont Stakes is the main event in the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which gets underway today, Th ursday, June 8, with three stakes races for fi llies. Friday’s card four graded stakes including the $500,000 New York Stakes for older fi llies & mares on the turf and the 2 mile, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup on the turf for older horses. Saturday’s Belmont Stakes undercard includes two other seven-fi gure stakes races: the $1.2 million Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap and the $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes on the turf for older horses. Th ere are seven other big stakes races also on the card. Along with exciting racing, the New York Racing Association is also showcasing some great entertainment. On Friday, Mike DelGiudice and Big Shot -- known for covering many of Billy Joel’s greatest hits -- will host a post-race concert. Th e cast of Broadway’s “On Your Feet” will perform during the Belmont Stakes Day card on Saturday, and recording artist Andy Grammer will hold a post-race concert. If you’re heading to the races this weekend, take mass transit. Th e Long Island Rail Road is off ering expanded service between Jamaica and Belmont Park. Visit www.mta.info/lirr for details. To purchase tickets for any or all three of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival dates, visit www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.belmontstakes. com. The horses break out of the starting gate in the 2016 Belmont Stakes.
To see the actual publication please follow the link above