Leading up to the 153rd running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday, June 5, usracing.com is publishing profiles of each contender. The 1 1/2-mile race at Belmont Park is the final leg of the Triple Crown. Profiles will be updated with post positions and odds following the draw on Tuesday (June 1).
By Lynne Snierson
The Japan-based colt, who finished 17½ lengths back and in seventh place in the Preakness (G1), will surely be one of the longest shots in the Belmont Stakes (G1). However, there’s plenty of incentive for him to land in the winner’s circle.
The New York Racing Association has put up a $1 million bonus on top of the $800,000 winner’s share of the $1.5 million purse for any horse based in Japan who has made at least three starts in that country.
France Go de Ina was vanned from Pimlico to Belmont Park on May 17 and trainer Hideyuki Mori had him out on a sloppy main track for his first work on May 29. Although it was unofficial, Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Welsch caught him in 53.29 for 4 furlongs going “around the dogs.” This time the exercise was without incident and nothing like his pre-Preakness work when the rider lost his left iron, lost his balance and fell out of the saddle onto Pimlico’s track.
Mori said through an interpreter that he has scheduled the colt for a serious work on Wednesday (June 2).
The Kentucky-bred France Go de Ina is a son of Will Take Charge out of the Curlin Mare Dreamy Blues, so Mori anticipates that this horse will handle the 1½-mile distance of the Belmont. In 2007 Curlin, the eventual Horse of the Year, lost the Belmont to the filly Rags to Riches by a head.
Mori, who is no stranger to venturing far from home to compete in major international stakes races, said that France Go de Ina should relish “Big Sandy” because the deep and sandy Belmont racing strip is similar to Japanese tracks.
Ricardo Santana, Jr., who seeks his first Belmont win and Triple Crown race victory, takes over the reins from Joel Rosario.
2021 Belmont Stakes Picks: France Go de Ina
Post position: TBD
Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Trainer: Hideyuki Mori
Owner: Yuji Inaida
Career record: 5-2-0-2
Career earnings: $145,291
Top Equibase speed figure: 78
Pedigree: Will Take Charge-Dreamy Blues, by Curlin
Running style: Front runner/stalker
Notes: France Go de Ina will be the third Japan-based horse to run in the Belmont. In 2019 Master Fencer was fifth and in 2016 Lani finished third …The colt is the sixth horse that 62-year-old trainer Hideyuki Mori has run in G1 races in the U.S. Last year, Jasper Prince was 14th and last in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) …Mori is the first Japanese trainer to start a horse in the Kentucky Derby. Sky Captain was 14th in 1995 …France Go de Ina was bred in Kentucky and purchased for $100,000 at the 2019 Keeneland Yearling Sale.