Global Weekly Preview: 'Special' Dickinson to shine at Belmont
Kiaran McLaughlin has happy memories of G1 Belmont Stakes Day.
Back in 2006, he sent out Jazil to land the third leg of the American Triple Crown to rapturous New York applause.
Now, 11 years later, the Godolphin trainer is optimistic Dickinson can deliver a similar result, albeit at a slightly lower level, in the G1 Just A Game Stakes on Saturday's 13-race Belmont mega-card.
There can be no doubting the wisdom of creating a raceday with so many highlights -- six Grade One races, including a Classic, is indeed impressive and attracts attention in the wider sporting world.
McLaughlin is unstinting in his praise of Dickinson, who has won five of her six runs on Turf and is one of the genuine racecourse discoveries of the past year.
"She's now a G1 winner and she's pretty special," he points out.
"The Just A Game is a tough race, as all G1 races are supposed to be. But I'm happy with the race shape.
"Dickinson has drawn gate 1, which should enable her to slot in. There is speed in the race, so she should find herself stalking the leaders. I think she can win," McLaughlin adds.
The trainer admits he played a hunch with Dickinson after she disappointed on dirt earlier in her career.
"Her sire Medaglia D'Oro has been such a great stallion, and he gets good horses on Turf and dirt. So, I thought, 'why not switch her to Turf?' and it paid off,' he adds.
McLaughlin most fears the Chad Brown-trained Roca Rojo, while he also respects last year's Just A Game winner Celestine, who carries the Moyglare Stud Farm colours.
It is interesting that America's obsession with uncovering a Triple Crown winner remains a constant in annual discussion on Classic contenders.
Yet this year, neither the G1 Kentucky Derby winner nor the G1 Preakness winner contests the Belmont. Even so, there is still plenty of quality -- Classic Empire, Irish War Cry, Lookin At Lee and the Japanese contender Epicharus all take their chance.
One other with legitimate claims is the Kenny McPeek-trained Senior Investment, who finished strongly for his third in the Preakness after being well back on the home turn.
In Australia, the G1 Stradbroke Handicap, Queensland's highest profile Pattern race, has been switched from Eagle Farm to Doomben following complaints about the track surface at the former.
Godophin's three-year-old Impending faces a maximum of 15 rivals but must contend with a wide draw. Corey Brown, who won the G1 Sydney Cup for Godolphin on the Charlie Appleby-trained Polarisation, will take the mount.