By NY Hot List Staff
The countdown to the Kentucky Derby is down to single digits and the action at Belmont Park, just like the weather, is starting to heat up.
The final weekend before the Kentucky Derby also serves as the opening weekend at Belmont Park and Saturday’s featured race offers a nice preview of the summer racing in the weeks to come.
The $125,000 Elusive Quality is an intriguing seven-furlong sprint that attracted a field of seven.
Heading the lineup is Krampus, who won the one-mile Grade 3 Canadian Turf Cup at Gulfstream Park on March 2. A 2-1 morning line favorite on Saturday, Krampus failed to fire in his last start and finished seventh in the Grade 3 Appleton at Gulfstream on March 29.
Krampus, who is tra8ned by Bill Mott, owns a perfect 2-for-2 record at Belmont Park.
Therapist (3-1) is a talented New York State-bred who has been a consistent performer in both open and state-bred stakes. A winner of three of seven starts in 2018, Therapist closed out the year with a third-place finish in the Tropical Park Derby on Dec. 29 and makes his first start since then on Saturday.
“It’s his first start of the year and it looks like a very deep race, but he’s been training well. We also chose this spot because it also sets up well for the $125,000 Kingston for New York-breds (May 27), so we’ll see how we do here to start,” Clement said.
Emmaus (7-2), a stakes winner in England, will make his U.S. debut in the Elusive Quality for trainer Connor Murphy. The 5-year-old horse has not raced since October when he finished second by a nose in a stakes in England.
Big Handsome (9-2) had a solid tuneup for the Elusive Quality when he returned from a nine-month layoff and finished second by a little less than a length in a March 9 optional claimer at Fair Grounds.
The 5-year-old won the Paradise Creek Stakes in 2017 before starting just two times in an abbreviated 2018 campaign.
“We feel as though he ran well last time out and just ran out of real estate,” trainer Anthony Dutrow said. “He’s now 5 years-old and he’s grown into his own over the past year and become a very professional horse. We feel as though he’s set up to run his best effort. In every one of his races at Belmont, no matter the distance, he’s run exceptionally well and we’re confident on how he’s looked in the mornings coming into this race.”
In three starts at Belmont Park, Big Handsome has two wins and a second.
The rest of the field includes Abiding Star (8-1), Fixed Point (8-1) and V.I.P. Code (15-1).