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Whitmore Ready for Big Race in Belmont Sprint Championship

Courtesy of Aaron Halterman of the Racing Dudes

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” Series is off to Belmont Park this Saturday for the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship. The race is a “Win and You’re In” for the TwinSpires Sprint. Last year, the local New York-bred hero Mind Your Biscuits won this race before going on to finish a fast-closing third in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar. This year’s headliner is Whitmore, who is coming off of a narrow defeat last time out in the Grade 2 True North Stakes. The winner of that race, Imperial Hint, was second in the TwinSpires Sprint a year ago. Whitmore is the only entry that ran in the Breeders’ Cup last year, finishing eighth in the TwinSpires Sprint.

The winner of the Belmont Sprint Championship will receive an automatic position in the TwinSpires Sprint this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

TV coverage of Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Racing Festival will be on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m ET. The NBC broadcast window will include live coverage and on-site analysis of the Belmont Oaks, the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship, and the Grade 3, $300,000 Dwyer.

Let’s take a look at the Belmont Sprint Championship field:

#1 Limousine Liberal – This horse just keeps throwing out consistent efforts and looked like an absolute beast in the paddock for the Met Mile. He ran to his looks, finishing third at odds of nearly 15-1. Here, he cuts back to a distance that is perfect for him while also dropping down in class, which will make him ultra-tough to beat. The major knock on him has been that he can “only win at Churchill Downs,” but with another Met Mile-type of effort, he can assuredly win here at Belmont Park.

#2 Whitmore – You can always count on the ever-classy Whitmore to show up ready to roll, and such was the case last time out when he nearly defeated Imperial Hint in the True North. That race was at 6 1/2 furlongs, and here, he gets an extra 1/2-furlong to work with, which could make him even more dangerous. He will look to return to the Breeders’ Cup with a win here.

#3 Eye Luv Lulu – This 7-year-old gelding has had a tremendous career, winning 10 of 44 and hitting the board in 25 of those starts. He is no stranger to success at Belmont Park, having won the Affirmed Success Stakes here last time out by 3/4 of a length. That was his first win against stakes company, and now he will make his graded stakes debut.

#4 Shaft of Light – Trainer Jorge Navarro is no stranger to success with sprint horses, and he has another solid one here. Last time out, Shaft of Light stretched out to finish second in the Grade 3 Salvatore Mile at Monmouth Park, but before that, he had two blowout victories going 7 furlongs. Navarro has this 7-year-old gelding running better than ever and could have him primed for a big effort at the perfect time.

#5 Lewisfield – This consistent runner for trainer Jeff Runco has never finished outside of the money in nine lifetime starts. Runco is best known for running at smaller tracks like Charles Town, but he quickly realized that this horse could match up against better horses after he broke his maiden at second asking. Recently, Lewisfield shipped to Pimlico, where he finished third in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint, and then to Monmouth Park, where he was second in the $75,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes.

#6 Favorable Outcome – This Chad Brown trainee had some big wins as a 3-year-old but has yet to get back on track this season. After failed attempts in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint and the Grade 1 Carter Handicap, Brown tried allowance company last time out, and the horse responded with a nice second-place showing. That race may have been just what he needed confidence-wise and he should show up with a big effort.

The Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship is part of a great day of action at Belmont Park. The track will also feature four other graded stakes events, including the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks, the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, and the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes. All of these races could impact the Breeders’ Cup this fall. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on July 28 with the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar, which is a Win and You’re In for the TwinSpires Sprint. The next day, two more challenge races will be held, including the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar (Longines Distaff) and the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park (Classic).

For more coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, head over to racingdudes.com

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