By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide will return to domestic action on Saturday [July 3] in a hot renewal of the G2 Suburban (10.44pm BST) at Belmont Park.
The Godolphin four-year-old will be making his first appearance since beating Japanese-trained Chuwa Wizard by 3¾ lengths at Meydan in March – and he faces a rematch with Happy Saver, the undefeated colt who beat Mystic Guide over course and distance in last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup.
“He’s doing fantastic,” said Mystic Guide’s trainer Mike Stidham, speaking to the NYRA media team from his base at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland ahead of Saturday’s $400,000 contest, which is a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the Classic at Del Mar on November 6.
Mystic Guide (Luis Saez) won the G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga in September before the Jockey Club Gold Cup. “The Jim Dandy was the beginning of him starting to put it all together,” said Stidham.
“He needs to be faster,” added the trainer. “The bottom line is that they’re both very good horses and I’m not taking anything for granted. I know Happy Saver has never been beaten and it won’t be an easy race for us. I just hope we have the best horse.”
Before Meydan, Mystic Guide recorded his career-best Beyer speed figure  in the G3 Razorback at a sloppy Oaklawn Park in February. “Obviously, we don’t really know how much the sloppy track played into that number but he came back in the Dubai World Cup and made the number look like it was real, which was good,” said Stidham.
“We’ve given him plenty of time and he’s had three months since that race to bounce back. Looking at him train and his weight and his coat, he’s an absolute picture right now.”
Unbeaten in five career starts, Happy Saver (Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz) returned to action in May winning an optional claimer over a mile. “I think as an older horse he’s a little more laid back in some of his works,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “He always performs well and he’s really filled out and matured.”
Another big US name due out this weekend is Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go (Brad Cox/Joel Rosario), who takes the path less travelled to Prairie Meadows in Iowa to shoulder topweight in the G3 Cornhusker Handicap on Friday’s card.
Also the winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Knicks Go takes a significant drop in grade in a bid to pick up the winning thread after finishing fourth in both the Saudi Cup and the Met Mile.
• Visit the NYRA Belmont Park website