Telecast Features a Look at Past Month for Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah & Connections, Plus Profile of Chris Mara
Classic Division Horses Tangle in Suburban Handicap
STAMFORD — July 2, 2015 — The undefeated Lady Eli, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner, leads the field of 14 3-year-old fillies for a berth into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in the $1 million Belmont Oaks (G1) at Belmont Park on the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” live broadcast this Saturday, July 4 on NBC at 5 p.m. ET.
The Belmont Oaks, run at 1 ¼ miles, will be the third of 10 telecasts under the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In Series” banner of automatic qualifying races leading into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 30-Oct. 31, which will be televised live on NBCSN and NBC.
NBC’s coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series on Saturday features host Laffit Pincay, III, analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey, the Hall of Fame jockey and five-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, and reporters Donna Brothers and Nick Luck. Daily Racing Form’s Matt Bernier serves as handicapper.
At the site where history was made one month earlier, the NBC Saturday telecast will revisit American Pharoah’s Belmont Stakes victory with a look at what the horse and connections have been doing since claiming the first Triple Crown in 37 years. In addition, Laffit Pincay will narrate a profile of New York Giants founding family member and executive Chris Mara, who is part owner of Belmont Oaks starter Itsonlyracingdad, a name inspired by Mara’s acting daughters Kate Mara and Rooney Mara.
The Belmont Oaks is part of an outstanding stakes card on Stars and Stripes Day at Belmont. The Independence Day card will also include live NBC coverage of the Suburban Handicap (G2) for 3-year-olds and up, and aiming for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. The 1 ¼ mile Suburban is led by the 4-year-old Tonalist, winner of the 2014 Belmont Stakes and The Jockey Club Gold Cup.
In the Belmont Oaks, Lady Eli, owned by Sheep Pond Partners and trained by Chad Brown, enters on a five-race win streak dating back to her debut on August 25 at Saratoga Race Course. The daughter of Divine Park was brilliant as a 2-year-old, taking the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf by a combined 5 ¾ lengths in addition to her debut score.
This year, Lady Eli has won both of her starts in dominant fashion, capturing the Appalachian Stakes (G3) at Keeneland by 2 ½ lengths, and then won the local prep for the Belmont Oaks, the May 31 Wonder Again Stakes, by a convincing half-length after being bottled up for much of the stretch.
“There’s always some pressure when you have an undefeated horse; you’d like to keep it going,” said Brown, who won the inaugural running of the Belmont Oaks in 2014 with Minorette. “She’s given us every indication in the morning that she’s going to continue to run her ‘A’ race, but as she goes on the races are always going to get harder. I’d anticipate this being the most difficult race she’s been in, but she seems like she’s up for it. She continues to improve.”
Lady Eli will break from post 2 and will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., who has been aboard the dark bay filly in all five of her career starts.
Brown will also saddle Consumer Credit, most recently third in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita Park, and Strict Compliance, winner of the Penn Oaks at Penn National in her latest outing. Junior Alvarado will be aboard Consumer Credit from post 7, while Strict Compliance will have the services of Javier Castellano from post 14.
Lady Eli will also be challenged by Jack Nakkashian’s Spanish Queen, brought in from California by trainer Richard Baltas, who saddled her to victory in the American Oaks by a half-length in her most recent start. She previously won the Grade 2 Honeymoon at Santa Anita in her previous start.
Trainer Christophe Clement, who finished second and third in last year’s edition of the Oaks, will send out two runners in Pine Needles and Miss Chatelaine. The Clement pair is exiting the Wonder Again, in which Pine Needles finished third after setting the pace and Miss Chatelaine closed to finish sixth.
Two runners from Europe have been entered in the Belmont Oaks: Olorda, a Group 3 winner in France trained by Michael Figge, and Outstanding, who won the Irish Stallion Farms Naas Oaks Trial on June 24 for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
As an added element to the racing action, fans can also get into the excitement of the Belmont Oaks by playing the Million Dollar Finish, which offers them the chance to correctly select the exact order of finish of the Belmont Oaks and win a trip the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The game is free to enter and play, and fans can register and submit their picks for each race online at: http://www.milliondollarfinish.com/. The fantasy player with the highest score for each designated race will win a once-in-a-lifetime VIP trip for two to the sold-out 2015 Breeders’ Cup. Along with the 10 chances to win during the Challenge Series, fans can enter for a shot at the ultimate prize of $1 million during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships by predicting the correct order for the top 10 finishers in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will air on Saturday, October 31 on NBC.
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About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 13 grade I races and purses totaling $26 million, will be held October 30-Oct. 31 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
No purchase necessary to enter or win. The Promotion registration period begins on or about April 28, 2015 at 12:01 a.m. ET and ends on October 31, 2015 at 5:40 p.m. ET. Promotion is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States & D.C., who are 18 years of age or older. See Official Rules at www.MillionDollarFinish.com/rules for exact registration times for each race, additional eligibility restrictions, prize descriptions/restrictions/ARVs and complete details. Void where prohibited. PROMOTION IS DEVISED AS A NON-GAMBLING PROMOTION and is intended solely for entertainment purposes. Promotion is sponsored by Breeders’ Cup Limited. Breeders’ Cup Limited is the sole sponsor of the Promotion. NBC Sports and NBCUniversal Media, LLC are not sponsors of the Promotion and are not associated with the administration of the Promotion in any way. Entrants are providing information to sponsors and not to NBC Sports and NBCUniversal Media, LLC.