Belmont at the Big A Picks 2024 | Dwyer Stakes (2024)

Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby-winner Domestic Product and Grade 3 Holy Bull victor Hades are set for a rematch in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer, a one-mile test for sophom*ores, at Belmont at the Big A.

The Dwyer is slated as Race 2 on Saturday’s 11-race program, which includes the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational in Race 6, the Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational in Race 9, and the Grade 2, $200,000 John A. Nerud in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

Klaravich Stables’ Kentucky homebred Domestic Product finished second to Hades in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull in February at Gulfstream Park ahead of his first graded stakes triumph in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby when pouncing from off the pace to win by a neck over No More Time in March. He went on to post a troubled off-the-board finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby where he was pinched at the start and lost a shoe.

Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, the Practical Joke dark bay rebounded last out with a runner-up effort in the 1 1/16-mile Listed NYRA Bets Pegasus with a prominent trip on June 15 at Monmouth Park.

Domestic Product [post 3, Flavien Prat, 124 pounds] was involved in an early pace battle between five runners in the six-horse field and was within a half-length of the pacesetting Tuscan Sky at the three-quarters call, but lost touch with his rival in the latter stages and settled for second 6 3/4 lengths back. He finished 4 1/4 lengths ahead of familiar foe Hades in third.

Out of the unraced Paynter mare Goods and Services, Domestic Product is from the family of multiple turf stakes-winner Cherokee Queen.

D.J. Stable and Robert Cotran’s Hades [post 2, Paco Lopez, 124 pounds] enters from his third last out in the Pegasus and is looking for his first trip to the winner’s circle since his 9-1 upset of the Holy Bull in February.

Trainer Joe Orseno said he had not expected such a forward battle in the Pegasus.

“I may have over-instructed Paco that day, and we talked about it since,” said Orseno. “I thought the four horse [Willy D’s] would go, but I never expected Chad’s horse to be up there gunning for the lead either. Paco said he wanted to take him out of there really bad, but he wanted to listen to instructions.”

The son of Awesome Slew won his first three outings when graduating on debut in December and followed with an eight-length romp of a Florida-bred allowance on New Year’s Eve en route to his Holy Bull win. He then finished off-the-board in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 3 Lexington going a respective nine furlongs and 1 1/16 miles.

Orseno added blinkers for Hades’ last two outings, but said he will remove them for the Dwyer.

“Paco will have free rein to ride it how it comes up. The horse is a good horse that we maybe have overthought a lot of things with,” said Orseno. “He’ll come from off the pace if it plays out that way. We know now to leave him alone and let him run. In a short field, someone can get away from you, but we’ll ride it the way it comes up.”

Skychai Racing, Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher and Hot Pink Stable’s Save the Trees [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 118 pounds] looks to preserve a perfect 2-for-2 record in his stakes debut for trainer Mike Maker.

The Preservationist gelding enters from a successful first try against winners in a six-furlong start allowance on June 9 at Churchill Downs, overcoming a slow break to pounce from 2 1/4 lengths off the pace and notch the 2 3/4-length victory. The effort garnered a 79 Beyer Speed Figure.

Save the Trees won on debut in April at Keeneland when in the care of trainer Wayne Mackey. He posted an eye-catching trip when rallying from 11 lengths back in last-of-10 to fly home late and nab the victory by three-quarter lengths in a key race that saw runner-up Hold My Bourbon and third-place Run Jalen Run exit to win next out.

“He’s training well,” said Peter Proscia of Paradise Farms Corp. “Mike thinks he can get the mile, so I’m all aboard and I hope we do well. We’re numbers guys and he came up with a big number on debut [74 Beyer], so we got him in the sale and it worked out in our favor. We’re happy.”

Save the Trees’ impressive maiden win was enough to bring the hammer down at $335,000 at the Keeneland April Horses of Racing Age Sale, where he was purchased by Maker for the ownership group. Save the Trees, who initially sold for $23,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is out of the multiple stakes-placed Forestry mare Canopy Lane.

“We had tried to purchase him privately, and the owners wanted to go to auction,” said Proscia. “It was probably a little more than I wanted to pay, but we hope he performs well and pays us back. We’re looking forward to it.”

Save the Trees is cross-entered in Saturday’s Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, but Proscia said their preference is to run in the Dwyer.

Completing the field is Kaleem Shah’s stakes-placed Billal [post 1, Junior Alvarado, 118 pounds], who seeks his first stakes victory on the back of a good third against the well-regarded Subrogate on June 8 at Saratoga Race Course. The effort produced a field-best 93 Beyer when defeated 2 1/2 lengths.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Billal kept close watch early from third and stayed patient down the backstretch of the 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer before putting in his bid in the turn and giving chase down the lane. The Street Sense colt has made four starts in stakes company, his best finish a third in the Listed Nashua over course and distance in November.

A $725,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Billal is out of the Bernardini mare Bambalina, whose dam is multiple graded stakes-winner and 2000 Champion Grass Mare Forever Together.

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Belmont at the Big A Picks 2024 | Dwyer Stakes (2024)
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