By Jon Lees
USA: Hot on the heels of winning the Derby and Irish Derby, Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is to target another ‘Derby’ – this time in New York.
Appleby is sending Secret Protector, third in the G3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, to tackle the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational at Belmont Park on July 10, to which beaten Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet has also been invited.
Secret Protector will be joined by Newbury Listed winner Creative Flair, who will contest the $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, in the process doubling his team at the venue. The two G1 races over 1m2f represent the first legs of the Turf Triple series.
Appleby has already enjoyed success at Belmont where Althiqa and Summer Romance gave the stable a one-two in the G1 Just A Game on June 5, the same day Adayar captured the Derby at Epsom. On Saturday he won the Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane.
Both four-year-old fillies have remained in New York where they will have their next starts in the G1 Diana on July 17 at Saratoga.
“They went solo yesterday just to get back on the grass and give them a little blowout,” said travelling assistant Sophie Chretien. “They both went very well and they’re very happy.”
Summer Romance, with Luis Saez up, set a sharp pace in the Just A Game, but could not respond to the late run of Althiqa, under Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
“Althiqa came from behind and the other was in front, and Althiqa is a pure miler,” said Chretien. “Maybe Summer was a bit too fresh, but that’s racing. Longer might be better for Summer.”
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