The Jockey Club Tour on Fox shifts to the Jersey Shore on Sunday afternoon as a field of 10 will line up in the Grade 1, $500,000 United Nations at Monmouth Park.
The 1 3/8-mile turf test is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, with the winner earning an automatic starting spot in the field for the Grade 1, $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, which will be contested at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
The United Nations will be televised live on Fox Sports 1, the 90-minute telecast getting underway at 5:00 p.m. ET. The program will also televise the Grade 3, $150,000 Salvatore Mile and will head to Woodbine in Canada for the $1 million Queen’s Plate.
The on-air duties will be handled by Greg Wolf, Richard Migliore, Andy Serling, Simon Bray and Alyssa Ali.
There will also be a recap of the races from Belmont Park’s Stars and Stripes card held on Saturday, July 5 and a look back at the dominant performance of leading three-year-old filly Untapable in the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes on June 28.
There are five graded stakes on Saturday’s card at Belmont Park, including the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational and the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be seeking his fifth win in the United Nations since 2003 when he saddles a pair of runners in Charming Kitten, winner of the Belmont Gold Cup, and Winnings Cause, who was third in the local prep, the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes.
Charming Kitten will be ridden by jockey Joe Bravo, who booted home the last two winners of the United Nations—Big Blue Kitten last year and Turbo Compressor in 2012.
Chad Brown, who saddled last year’s winner, Big Blue Kitten, will send out Ghurair, who makes his third start since landing in the U.S.
Here are my three top selections for the United Nations:
Twilight Eclipse (5-2)
Twilight Eclipse gets the nod in a wide-open edition of this race. The gelding will cut back from the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup where he tracked the early pace, took over the lead heading for home but weakened to finish fourth, beaten 6 1/4 lengths by eventual winner Charming Kitten. It was his first start after returning from Dubai where he failed to fire in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1).
The gelding was victorious in his two starts before shipping to Dubai, winning the Mac Diarmida (G2) at today's distance and taking the William McKnight Handicap (G3) at 1 1/2 miles. The cutback in distance should suit this guy, and he will be forwardly placed in a race without much early speed signed up.
Main Sequence (8-1)
Main Sequence makes his U.S. debut here for the Graham Motion barn, and it will be his first start since running eighth in the Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot last fall. The gelding has lost 10 in a row since taking the Derby Trial (G3) at Lingfield back in 2012, but he has run well on several occasions, including a runner-up finish in the Epsom Derby (G1) and three in-the-money finishes in Group 3 company last year.
The barn should have him fit and ready to go off the bench at Fair Hill. He looks as if he may offer some value here if he goes off near his 15-1 morning line.
Side Glance (15-1)
Side Glance was not a threat in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot last month, checking in at ninth, his fifth loss in a row since taking the Longines Mackinnon Stakes (G1) in Australia last November. The gelding made a trip to Arlington Park last summer for the Arlington Million (G1) and ran a decent third, beaten by two lengths for the top spot.
The frequent flier miles are adding up on this guy, as he has raced in Britain, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia and the U.S. The 15-1 morning line looks generous, as he has been facing tougher competition in his last three starts and could bounce back here at a decent price.
Statistics and morning-line odds courtesy of DRF Formulator.
Follow Michael Dempsey on Twitter: @turfnsport.