By John Manley
Niall O’Callaghan has never been painted as a party spoiler. Sure, he brings as much spirit and ebullience to any gathering he attends as a trainload of leprechauns. But shortly after 6 p.m. on Saturday, the Corkman hopes to still the voices of more than 70,000 people expected to attend the Belmont Stakes, where War Emblem will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. O’Callaghan will saddle Wiseman’s Ferry, a longshot to thwart the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.
Wiseman’s Ferry, owned by the partnership of Morton Fink, Lee Sacks and Swifty Farm, will enter the Belmont off a front-running win in the Lone Star Derby in Texas. Breaking from the extreme outside in a 14-horse field, Wiseman’s Ferry cleared his rivals and was never seriously threatened while posting a three-length victory. The win resembled his previous race, a facile victory against allowance foes in the slop at Keeneland. Previous to these races, there was little to suggest that the colt or O’Callaghan would be players in this year’s Triple Crown.
Wiseman’s Ferry, a son of Hennessy out of Emmasu, a Silver Deputy mare, began his career in adventurous style last year at Cork, where he threw Michael Kinane and ran off prior to the start. Colt and rider regrouped to handily defeat four rivals. That would be the last time Wiseman’s Ferry visited a winner’s enclosure until his Keeneland win. After the maiden breaker, he kept good company in group and listed races, chasing the likes of Johannesburg. Over the winter, Wiseman’s Ferry was shipped from Aidan O’Brien’s yard to O’Callaghan in Florida. He ran third in a Gulfstream allowance race, then blossomed in Kentucky.
Jorge Chavez will again be in the irons on Wiseman’s Ferry. There’s little question that the colt we be in front into the clubhouse turn. The question is whether he will still be there the next time around. Even if he isn’t, a party will still be in order. After all, his trainer will be on hand.
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