HEADED BY Group 2 UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance, a quartet of Godolphin runners trained by Charlie Appleby arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday. Appleby is aiming his Classic winner at the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, having bypassed the Kentucky Derby last weekend.
The 3yo Dubawi gelding and stablemate Desert Peace started their journey from Dubai to Belgium, while fillies Summer Romance and Althiqa joined them from the UK for their flight to New York. “They all shipped well and are very relaxed,” said travelling assistant Sophie Chretien, who will oversee training and saddling duties for the quartet.
“We’re here early so we’ll have more time to get settled in and get used to Belmont.” Rebel’s Romance has won four of five starts, his sole defeat being a fourth in the 1600m Saudi Derby. He returned to win the 1900m UAE Derby and connections hope the 2400m of the Belmont Stakes will suit him.
“The UAE Derby was a very good effort and it showed he has matured a lot,” Chretien said. “He went to Saudi before the run at Meydan and it took him a while to mature, but he has matured a lot and he won the UAE Derby with class.
We just have to keep his mind relaxed because to do well in these big races you need a horse as cool as possible in his head. “I think he’s built in such a way that the longer distance will suit him because he is a big gelding.” A 4yo gelded son of Curlin, Desert Peace might be aimed at the 1300m True North Stakes.
He has won three of his five starts, including his most recent outing in a 1600m dirt handicap at Meydan. “We’ll see how he trains, but he could aim for the True North. Time will tell,” said Chretien. Summer Romance and Althiqa are both being aimed at the Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes having finished first and third respectively in Meydan’s Grade 2 Balanchine Stakes.
The latter had previously won the Grade 2 Cape Verdi Stakes when Summer Romance was only fifth. “The two fillies are physically very similar. They both won in Dubai and will run in the same race here in New York,” said Chretien.