Bolshoi Ballet and Santa Barbara came across the Atlantic from their Irish home, arrived at Belmont Park, won their respective Turf Triple Series races, and returned to Ireland on Sunday. But expect to see the Irish colt and filly back in November for the Breeders’ Cup.

Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara won the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks in come-from-behind fashion Saturday. The Irish filly may be back for November’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar. (Image: Elsa Lorieul/Coglianese Photos)

“That’s the plan for them both,” assistant trainer TJ Comerford told the New York Racing Association. “Wherever they go next is another thing, but now that they had a bit of practice coming over here, it will be easier the next time.”

Comerford said that “next time” probably won’t be the second legs of the Turf Triple series. That’s the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby for the boys on Aug. 7 and the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks for the girls, also on Aug. 7. He said his boss, trainer Aidan O’Brien, will likely send over other candidates from his endless Ballydoyle barn.

That means the pair will run in Europe this summer, with the Breeders’ Cup the end-of-year target. Bolshoi Ballet’s destination would be the Breeders’ Cup Turf, considered the event’s second-most prestigious race, behind the Classic. Santa Barbara aims for the Filly and Mare Turf.

Santa Barbara, Bolshoi Ballet show stretch moxie

On Saturday, Santa Barbara pulled off an impressive Belmont Oaks victory behind Ryan Moore’s deft riding. Seventh with two calls remaining, Moore steered Santa Barbara between horses at the furlong marker. He found an opening and Santa Barbara did the rest. She sprung loose for a half-length victory.

In the Belmont Derby two races later, Bolshoi Ballet took his turn. Sent off as the even-money favorite under Moore, Bolshoi Ballet also rallied from seventh to first. He went four-wide at the top of the stretch, took the lead from Cellist at the sixteenth pole, and came home a 1 ¼-length winner.

Both Bolshoi Ballet and Santa Barbara came to Belmont Park off defeats. Bolshoi Ballet ran a miserable seventh in the Epsom Derby. Santa Barbara finished second to older filly Thundering Nights in the Group 1 Pretty Polly at the Curraugh. That loss, her third in a row in Group 1 races, came just 13 days before the Belmont Oaks.

Moore found the going easy aboard Santa Barbara

“In fairness to her, her last three races were top-class Group 1 races, so she had plenty of experience,” Comerford said. “She showed in the Oaks that she has a good turn of foot, even though they were going steady. Ryan never hit her. Even after the race, he said it was the easiest winner he’s ridden.”

Santa Barbara’s half-siblings, Order of Australia and Iridessa, already cut their Breeders’ Cup teeth. Order of Australia shocked the field in last year’s Mile, winning at 73/1. Iridessa won the 2019 Filly and Mare Turf.

Bolshoi Ballet won his Grade 1 on the same day his sire, Galileo, was euthanized at 23. Bolshoi Ballet gave his late father his 92nd Grade/Group 1 progeny victory.

“There are going to be other Galileo horses that come along, but we were fortunate to win yesterday,” Comerford said. “He’s (Bolshoi Ballet) proven to be a decent horse and we’ve always thought a lot of him.”

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