Trainer Aidan O'Brien will be represented by a trio of runners Saturday as the first legs of the newly minted Turf Triple series get underway.
Slated to arrive in New York on Tuesday and clear quarantine for training by Thursday, the European contingent includes Blenheim Palace and Cape of Good Hope for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational as well as Just Wonderful for the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational.
Blenheim Palace, by Galileo and out of the Storm Cat dam Meow, is a full brother to stallion and four-time Group 1 winner Churchill, who was the top-rated 2-year-old colt in Europe in 2016. Blenheim Palace graduated in April over 10 furlongs of soft turf at Navan and followed up with a second in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (G3) at Leopardstown at the same distance on yielding turf.
On Saturday, the talented chestnut finished a strong second in the Full of Surprises International (G3) at the Curragh over 1 1/4-miles of good going. The quick turnback echoes O'Brien's success in last year's Belmont Oaks with Athena, who finished third in the Pretty Polly (G1) just six days before her Belmont Oaks triumph.
Cape of Good Hope, a full brother to world-traveling multiple Group/Grade 1 winner Highland Reel, graduated in April over 10 furlongs of good going at Epsom. After finishing fourth on June 2 in the Prix du Jockey Club (G1), Cape of Good Hope followed up on June 20 with a an off-the-board effort in the Hampton Court (G3) on soft turf at Royal Ascot.
Just Wonderful, a bay daughter of Dansili out of the Montjeu mare Wading, captured the Flame of Tara Irish E.B.F. (G3) at the Curragh in September and two starts later was victorious in the Shadwell Rockfel (G2) at Newmarket. She completed her 2-year-old campaign when fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Winless in three sophomore starts, including an eighth last out in the Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot, Just Wonderful comes from the same family as Athena, last year's winner.