Belmont’s Stars and Stripes Festival makes its mark

Catholic Boy (right) gets the better of Analyze It in the Belmont Derby Invitational on Saturday. Irish challenger Hunting Horn is third. Photo: Joe labozzetta/

After just four years, Belmont Park’s Stars and Stripes Festival has certainly established itself as an important part of the American racing calendar. Handle ($24.6 milllion) and attendance (16,763) continued the upward curve at last Saturday’s big day, featuring the fifth runnings of the two new turf Grade 1s, the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks, and the performances weren’t bad either, with the card having plenty of impact on the TRC Global Rankings.

Among the stars were Irad Ortiz Jr. Ortiz (+3pts, #17 from #19) isn’t even the highest-rated jockey in his own family – that honor goes to world #8 Jose Ortiz – but the pride of Puerto Rico had a great weekend at Belmont, winning the G2 Suburban Stakes on Diversify and the G3 Dwyer on the well-backed Firenze Fire.

The Belmont Derby went to one-time Kentucky Derby prospect Catholic Boy, who looks a turf runner very much on the rise. His victory helped his sire, WinStar stalwart More Than Ready (+3pts) climb to #22 from #24. Catholic Boy was his first Graded runner since Sir Truebadour won the G3 Bashford Manor last month.

As we noted last week, Coolmore’s Camelot (+5pts, #45 from #53) is the highest-ranked second-season sire in the Northern Hemisphere. That he was responsible for Belmont Oaks winner Athena and Belmont Derby third Hunting Horn underlines the point.

Twice Over a big climber after the Durban July

Another major meeting at the weekend was the famed Durban July day at Greyville in Durban, South Africa. The big race, the G1 Durban July Handicap, produced a 1-2-3-5 for world #43 Justin Snaith, although ironically - partly because of points that have dropped out of his three-year rankings window - he has been overtaken as South Africa’s #1 trainer by Sean Tarry.

The highest-ranked South African trainer in the four-year history of TRC Rankings is, of course, Mike De Kock, who was world #11 in our inaugural year. Tarry (+9pts, #42 from #57) took over the top spot from Snaith after sending out a G1 and a G2 winner at Greyville.

Snaith’s Durban July winner, Do It Again, is a son of third-season sire Twice Over, who stands at Klawervlai Stud in South Africa. The nine-point gain catapults the former Juddmonte four-time G1 winner 177 places up the sires’ rankings to #195.

Greyville also produced the week’s joint biggest climber across all categories of the rankings in jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe, who rises 28 slots to #116 after winning the G2 Durban Golden Horseshoe.

He gains 10pts alongside Dutchman Adrie De Vries, who is now #44 after two wins at Hamburg, notably the G1 German Derby on Weltstar.

The colt is trained by Markus Klug (+6pts, #33 from #40), who is now just a point behind #32 Andreas Wohler in the battle for Germany’s #1 trainer. Wohler is a former world #10, while Klug has gained 20pts and climbed 29 places to a career high, with five Group winners in the last six weeks.

Click here for a list of all last week’s biggest TRC Global Rankings points gainers.

Click here for a list of all the week’s Group and Graded winners.

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