Roadster Returns Where It All Began
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Grade 1 winner Roadster returns to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Saturday, where he will attempt to win for the first time since taking the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in April. He is one of six entered in the $100,000 Native Diver Stakes (G3) over 1 1/8 miles.
Speedway Stable’s Roadster broke his maiden on this very track last July, cruising to a 4 ¼ length victory as a prohibitive favorite. The Bob Baffert-trainee went strongly favored in the grade 1 Del Mar Futurity next out, but finished third behind stablemate Game Winner. That runner went on to take the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs, while Roadster went to the sidelines until March 1. He came back to roll away to win an allowance at Santa Anita over a mile, then dueled Game Winner into submission in the stretch of the Santa Anita Derby.
But Roadster hasn’t won since. He was placed 15th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), ran second as the favorite in the Affirmed (G3), and missed by a nose in the Damascus Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. Drayden Van Dyke will be aboard the son of Quality Road for the first time Saturday.
Going against him are a cast of capable runners, including Two Thirty Five, who breaks from the outside. He was a stakes winner at Del Mar in August, scoring by a nose over a mile. Del Mar’s current leading trainer Richard Baltas conditions the son of Stay Thirsty, who has won over this track twice in his career. Abel Cedillo will ride.
Extra Hope breaks just inside of him in the fifth stall. Richard Mandella trains the son of Shanghai Bobby for Jay Em Ess Stable. Extra Hope was third in the Damascus, and retains jockey Flavien Prat. He is winless in three starts here, and has never stretched out this far, but is grade 1 placed and brke his maiden impressively over 1 1/16-miles last fall.
Midcourt defeated Two Thirty Five last out, and has won three races in a row. He broke his maiden at Santa Anita in June, then won here in allowance company in August. The lightly raced son of Midnight Lute, who initially cost $450,000, then won the Comma to the Top Stakes at Santa Anita October 27. John Shirreffs trains, Victor Espinoza will ride.
Leading Score, who is Baffert’s other runner, has the rail. He was a winner here in July, and ran third in the Comma to the Top. Mark Glatt trainee Zestful rounds out the field of six.
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On Saturday, the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap will top a great card at Belmont Park with five graded stakes and once again bring several of the nation’s best horses together for a one-mile showdown.
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Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Features Metropolitan Handicap from Belmont Park This Saturday Live at 5 PM on NBC
Led by Code of Honor, McKinzie and Vekoma, an outstanding field of eight horses will compete for a free berth into the $2 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on Saturday, July 4 in the 1-mile, $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap.