A three-time Grade 1 winner over synthetic tracks, Dullahan is winless in three starts on the grass. The chestnut son of Even the Score is graded stakes-placed over the surface, having finished second in his 2012 debut to fellow Jamaica entrant Howe Great in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park and third in the Grade 2 With Anticipation last summer at Saratoga Race Course.
“This will be his first time on the turf where he’s 100 percent,” said trainer Dale Romans of Dullahan, who began his career on grass, finishing second going 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga. “As a 2-year-old, he hadn’t really turned the corner, and the Palm Beach [on March 11] was his first start off a layoff. I’m kind of anxious to see what he does.”
Winner of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, the Grade 1 Blue Grass and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity, Dullahan also finished third in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on dirt. With that versatility in mind, Romans is looking at a number of Breeders’ Cup options next month for the colt, from the 1 ½-mile Turf to the Mile, also on turf, or even the 1 ¼ mile Classic on the main track at Santa Anita Park.
“The Jamaica is one of the last 3-year-old races of the year, and the 1 1/8 miles opens up a lot of options,” said Romans, who sent Dullahan out to breeze five furlongs in 1:00.44 Sunday over the main track at Belmont. “It’s easier going longer, from 1 1/8 miles to 1 ½ miles or 1 ¼ miles, but we could also go a mile.”
Joel Rosario, aboard when Dullahan upset leading older horse Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic, retains the mount. Under high weight at 123 pounds, Dullahan will leave from post position No. 3.
Among Dullahan’s challengers is Summer Front, who is 5-for-6 on turf, with his only loss a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Secretariat on Aug. 18 at Arlington Park.
Trained by Christophe Clement for Waterford Stable, the War Front colt is 2-for-2 over Belmont turf, having broken his maiden going six furlongs last fall and gaining his first graded stakes in June with a half-length victory over Howe Great in the Grade 3 Hill Prince.
“I thought [in the Secretariat], even though he finished third, he lacked a bit of racing luck,” said Clement. “He was closer to the pace than I would have liked, and the race was a little bit against him.”
Summer Front will carry 121 pounds, including regular rider Ramon Dominguez, as he leaves from post position 5 at 5-1 on the morning line.
Those two will have a familiar foe in Howe Great, who drew post position 7 at 6-1 on the morning line. The consistent Hat Trick colt has been off the board just once in 10 career starts, finishing fifth behind Dullahan in the Blue Grass, and most recently ran second in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby.
Howe Great will be reunited in the Jamaica with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for his victory in the Palm Beach.
Lending an international flair to the Jamaica will be Reddam Racing’s lightly campaigned Cogito, runner-up to Bayrir in the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam-Grand Prix de Maisons-Laffitte on July 22 last time out. The Giant’s Causeway colt, 2-1-0 from four starts, was to have made his American debut in the Grade 1 Travers but sprained a muscle in his back and missed the race.
With Frankie Dettori named to ride, the Brian Meehan trainee drew post position 4 and was listed as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line.
Rounding out the field for the Jamaica, which will be run as race 9 on the 10-race card, will be Unbridled Command, who stretched his win streak to three with a victory in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga; King David, making his stakes debut after being claimed for $35,000 by Michael Maker; Shkspeare Shaliyah, most recently 10th in the Saranac, and King Kreesa, fourth in the Saranac.
NYRA Press contributed to this report.