Bolshoi Ballet rerouted to Belmont Park by Aidan O’Brien for Jockey Club Derby challenge

Horse Racing Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet: bidding to add the Jockey Club Derby Invitational to his Belmont Derby success. Photo: NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Jon Lees

USA: Days after having to be withdrawn from the Prix Niel at ParisLongchamp, Bolshoi Ballet is in New York where he will bid to win the G1 $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational at Belmont Park.

The 1m4f race, a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, is the final leg of the NYRA’s Turf Triple series for males, of which the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bolshoi Ballet won the first leg in July, and will be shown live on Sky Sports Racing.

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Bolshoi Ballet, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore, had to be scratched by France Galop stewards on Arc Trials day [September 12] due to an irregularity with the vaccination record in his passport and was subsequently redirected to New York.

“He was in France on Sunday, but we didn’t run him so we decided to bring him here. I think the wider turns suit him well,” said Ballydoyle travelling assistant T J Comerford said.

“He’s won here two starts back and seemed to go around here over a shorter distance. His last start was a good experience for him. He’s won here and has form here, so that’s always a big help.”

On his latest US visit Bolshoi Ballet was the beaten favourite in the Saratoga Derby over 1m 1½f finishing fourth behind State Of Rest. Comerford said Belmont will suit him better. 

“He won at a mile and a quarter here, so that suited him but he’s definitely a better horse going farther,” he said. 

“He ran a mile and a half in the English Derby but got a bad cut on his leg, so he really didn’t have a race. All of his wins this year were at a mile and a quarter, but he always steps up like a mile and a half horse.”

Bolshoi Ballet will be taken on by Godolphin’s Yibir, the winner of the G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes whose trainer Charlie Appleby has already won two G1s in New York this summer. Jamie Spencer will be in the saddle.

Appleby’s assistant Chris Connett said: “I think the plan will be to get cover early and carry himself into the race and make one run. It’s the kind of track that should suit him. It’s one of the biggest galloping tracks in North America and it will suit the big horse that he is.”

Derby Italiano winner Tokyo Gold (John Velazquez), who finished second in the Belmont Derby, will be the third European-trained challenger in an eight runner field.

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