By Emily Shields
The stakes feature at Belmont Park on Thursday is the $80,000 Easy Goer Stakes for three-year-olds going 1 1/16-miles. The race drew just six horses, but they are well matched and set to kick off the rest of the meeting post 2020 Belmont Stakes in New York. Wager on Belmont Park racing with TVG.com.
#1 Celtic Striker (8-1) was sixth in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs and 11th and last in the Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct. He gets some class relief here and did win a one-mile allowance at Parx in February, but this would be a step up and a surprise for the son of Congrats. Ray Handal trains and Manny Franco, fresh off his Belmont Stakes victory, will ride.
#2 Informative (12-1) is a Uriah St Lewis product by Bodemeister. This will be his 12th start and he seeks his second win. After being stakes placed at Laurel Park last year, Informative finally broke his maiden on February 8, then went right back to tackling Grade 3 company. He also ran off the board in the Gotham and Matt Winn, then was sixth in allowance company over this trip last out.
#3 Casino Grande (8-5) is unbeaten. The two-time winner went right to the lead to win his debut at Tampa Bay Downs March 14, then showed a new dimension in sitting back and rallying in a May 16 allowance at Gulfstream. Irad Ortiz Jr retains the mount for Christophe Clement; the son of Cairo Prince cannot be ignored in this spot.
#4 Sonneman (2-1) starts for Steve Asmussen for the first time after being in the barn of Mark Hennig to this point. The $375,000 son of Curlin is out of the stakes mare Zardana, who once outran Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds. Her son has won two in a row, first a one mile maiden over this track, and then a seven-furlong allowance six months later when he returned to the races. Jose Ortiz is up.
#5 Prodigious Bay (3-1) is the last of the three main contenders. The Ron Moquett trainee is a son of Bayern who broke his maiden at Oaklawn Park by four and a half lengths in the slop. That was over today’s distance and his first try around two turns. He then ran fourth under similar conditions save for a fast track May 2, which was his last start.
#6 Toy (8-1) rounds out the field. He has won two in a row, showing both speed and the ability to lay off. Michael Trombetta trains the son of Tapizar, who will be ridden by John Velazquez. He has been top three in five of seven lifetime.
The Easy Goer is slated as the eighth of a nine-race card. Post time is 5:04pm Eastern.
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