On Saturday Aspen Grove recorded a brilliant win in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes for her owner/breeders Craig Bernick and Mrs John Magnier.
Always showing promise Aspen Grove broke her maiden in the Group 3 Newtownanner Stud Irish EBF Stakes at the Curragh last season.
Ridden by Oisin Murphy, the daughter of Justify was stepped up in trip to a mile-and-a-quarter for the first time. Powering to take the lead inside the final furlong, she went on to win by three-parts-of-a-length.
“It was hard to know what to expect going over as it was tough to weigh up the American form.
“She was in-season when she ran in the Irish Guineas so we knew we could just put a line through that. Her last couple of runs before that had been good so we were hopeful heading over.”
“It wasn’t ideal that she got left a bit at the start, but I think that actually worked out for the best because she got down the rail and was able to pick her way through. She travelled well and she got the splits when she needed them. You need a bit of luck in those races over there and she got some. He [Oisin] gave her a great ride.
“She had always worked quite well at home and we always had the race in our heads for her. I said to Craig [Bernick] in the spring that we’d run her in a trial, and if she runs alright there we’ll run her in the Guineas and then after that we would find something for her in America.”
“She’ll head up to Saratoga and run in the Saratoga Oaks in early August, or else there is the Del Mar Oaks a week later, so we’ll just see what way it all pans out over the next little while.” Fozzy Stack.
Owner Craig Bernick also commented “I have to give him all the credit. Her good races were good enough to win this, but in her bad races, she’s nowhere. We thought we’d take a chance and we’re really excited.”
“We could go to the Del Mar Oaks, we could go to the Saratoga Oaks. It didn’t seem like the distance bothered her. There’s a great programme of races here, so I think she’ll stay here.”