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Competitive Field Ready for John A. Nerud Stakes

Courtesy of Aaron Halterman of the Racing Dudes

Nine horses are set to contest this Saturday’s running of the $300,000 John A. Nerud Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on a tremendous day of racing. Formerly known as the Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes, the John Nerud will be televised on NBC starting at 4:00 PM ET, along with the Belmont Derby (G1) and Belmont Oaks (G1). 

This field seems to be comprised of a wide-open group vying for victory. The Dale Romans-trained Promises Fulfilled has the most established resume, winning three graded stakes events last year as a 3-year-old. The Shackelford colt is yet to win this season, but he has still performed well against top-flight company, including a solid fourth last time out here in the Met Mile (G1). His main challenge comes from New York Central, winner of the Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) in his last start. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt looks to be hitting his best stride at the perfect time for this challenge.

The winner of the John Nerud Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

Here is a look at the full field:

#1 Majestic Dunhill – It’s been a tough 2019 season for him so far, though he has been facing tough company all year long. He’ll make his Belmont Park debut after finishing third in the Polynesian Stakes at Laurel Park last time out. The competition won’t intimidate him and his best effort gives him a shot to make some noise.

#2 New York Central – He was highly-touted last year as a 3-year-old, but injuries forced him to miss the second half of the season. This year, he has come back running better than ever and is rapidly improving coming into this race. He won an allowance race to start the year before taking the Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) at Pimlico in his last start. This move up in class is something that he should be ready to tackle.

#3 Warrior’s Club – The Churchill Downs Racing Club has had a lot of fun with this horse, who has now earned nearly $800,000. Last year, he picked up his first graded victory in the Commonwealth Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. This year, he is winless in three starts; however, he does have two runner-up efforts, including this year’s edition of the Commonwealth. The 7-furlong distance makes him interesting, and it’s worth noting that he scratched out of a race last week in order to run in this spot.

#4 Nicodemus – Belmont Park is the home to the biggest win of this horse’s career, which came two back in the Westchester Stakes (G3). He followed up that up with a solid showing in the True North Stakes (G2), where he finished a close fourth against a solid group of sprinters. Those two starts should have him set up for a nice effort against this smaller field. He has blossomed as a 4-year-old and should show more improvement with each start.

#5 Killybegs Captain – After showing consistent form throughout his entire career, this will be his first start against graded stakes company. He often runs well at Belmont Park, where he has two victories form seven starts. The class jump is the biggest question mark, but he usually shows up with a solid effort, so you can’t count him out.

#6 Bon Raison – A big starter allowance victory last time out over this track that earned a nice speed figure has his connections dreaming big. In the past, he has struggled when facing graded stakes company, but he comes into this spot in great form. He deserves another shot to prove himself while trying to earn his way into the Breeders’ Cup.

#7 Do Share – This gelding seems to have not lost a step, even though he is now 6 years old. Two races back, he won the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, then backed that up with a solid fourth in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) on Kentucky Derby day. The winner of that race, Mitole, went on to win the Met Mile (G1) in his next start, showing the difficulty of the Churchill Downs. This field should be a bit more to Do Share’s liking.

#8 Pat On the Back – After two straight victories against lesser company in smaller stakes events, this horse has earned a shot against graded stakes horses once again. Three races back, he was fifth in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) against a very difficult field. This 7-furlong distance will be to his liking, and he has won four straight over the Belmont Park oval. The home track advantage can really play a factor, which gives him a solid shot against this group.

#9 Promises Fulfilled – As a 3-year-old, this horse was a beast in one-turn races. He picked up victories in the Amsterdam Stakes (G3), the Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1), and the Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2). He then rounded out his season with a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs, where he gave a good account of himself. This year, he has hit the board once in three starts while facing the very best in the division. After running fourth in the Golden Saheen (G1) at Dubai, he returned home to finish third in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) before a solid fourth last time out in the Met Mile (G1). He shortens up a touch to 7 furlongs while also taking what looks to be a significant drop in class. Those two factors make him a logical favorite.

The John A. Nerud serves as one of five stakes races on the Saturday card at Belmont Park. The other stakes include the Belmont Derby (G1), the Belmont Oaks (G1), the Suburban Handicap (G2), and the Dwyer Stakes (G3). While these other stakes are not Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events, they still could produce several starters in this year’s event. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on July 20 at Monmouth Park with the running of the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1). That race will be a “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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

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