Irish Champion National Hunt trainer Willie Mullins has two horses among the six potential European runners in a field of 14 for the $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (G3T) over two miles on the Widener turf course this Friday.
Mullins has entered two horses who are winners both on the flat and over jumps. Wicklow Brave, a winner of last year’s Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger (Group 1) at The Curragh and more recently a winner of the BETDAQ Punchestown Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) at the Punchestown Festival is set to run at Belmont. The 8-year-old gelding, owned by Wicklow Bloodstock Ltd., has been drawn in stall 12 and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
The other Mullins entry is Clondaw Warrior, a horse who has been placed in Group and Graded races. The 10-year-old gelding finished second in the 2016 American St. Leger at Arlington International Racecourse. Owned by the Act D Wagg Syndicate, the gelding will have jockey John Velazquez in the saddle on Friday.
Last year’s Belmont Gold Cup runner-up, the Nicolas Clement-trained Now We Can, is entered again this year. The 8-year-old gelding is a Group 2 winner in France, but is winless in his two starts this year, finishing third last time out in a Group 3 at Chantilly. Owned by Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Now We Can will be piloted by Julien Leparoux.
Another European invader Red Cardinal enters off a Group 2 win in Germany for trainer Andreas Wohler. Michael Hui’s Graded stakes winner Tagleeb heads the American-based contingent. The 7-year-old son of Hard Spun was second in the May 13th Man o’ War Stakes, which was won by the Dermot Weld-trained five-year-old mare Zhukova.
Merriebelle Stable’s Renown is on a three-race winning streak, taking the Secretariat Stakes at Great Meadow in Virginia last month, and the Sycamore Stakes last October at Keeneland. Grade 3 winner Bullards Alley hasn’t won this year, but most recently ran third in the Louisville Handicap (G3T) at Churchill Downs in May.