Hunting Horn has an advantage in Belmont Derby

The Grade I, $1.2 million Belmont Derby highlights the action on Saturday at Belmont Park. A field of nine three-year-old turf males based in America and beyond will go 1 1/4-miles over the lawn. Post time for the Belmont Derby, Race 10 of 11 on “Stars & Stripes Day,” is 6:50 p.m. EST. As always, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#4 HUNTING HORN (7-2) is the only Belmont Derby entrant that has traveled 1 1/4-miles on turf. That occurred in his most recent start, a runaway win in the Hampton Court Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting. He ships in fairly quickly for Aiden O’Brien but his European form says he should handle this group. Sir Ryan Moore should work out a smooth, stalking trip aboard HUNTING HORN, as he did last time out.

#7 CATHOLIC BOY (4-1) was roughed up late by ANALYZE IT in last month’s Pennine Ridge but re-rallied for a quality win. He’s now 3-for-4 on the lawn in his career and has been working well for this. The pedigree says the distance increase should be no problem for him. Javier Castellano has the call once more with CATHOLIC BOY.

#3 ANALYZE IT (5-2 morning-line favorite) was solid gold though three starts but showed some limitations in the Pennine Ridge. The distance increase doesn’t bode well for him, but his raw talent makes him tough to toss. Regular rider Jose Ortiz will be in the irons.

#8 HAWKISH (7-2) has had a nose for the wire in his brief career, winning three of his four starts, all at a mile on turf. His score in the Penn Mile was an eye-opener, so even though he picks up significant ground in the Belmont Derby, he must be left in the mix. Manny Franco maintains the mount.

#9 MY BOY JACK (6-1) was a respectable fifth in the Kentucky Derby when last seen. He makes his return to the turf on Saturday, where he has a 5-1-3-0 record. It’s possible he’ll improve on that form making his first grass start at age three, and the way he closed at Churchill last time out suggests he won’t mind today’s distance. The deep closer retains the services of Kent Desormeaux.

The play: $1 trifecta 4/3,7,8,9/3,7,8,9 ($12)

DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano rides in 10 races on “Stars & Stripes Day,” with the bulk of his quality mounts coming later in the card. Favorable Outcome (4-1) looks live for him in the Belmont Sprint Championship. One race later, he’ll be aboard Capla Temptress (6-1) in the Belmont Oaks. He follows that with War Story (5-1) in the Suburban and CATHOLIC BOY in the Belmont Derby. It’s quite possible Castellano will hit the board in every leg of Saturday’s special all-stakes Pick Four.

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