Fort Bragg (left) narrowly prevails over Saudi Crown in the Dwyer (NYRA/Coglianese)
NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.— Racing’s newest graded stakes-winner Fort Bragg garnered a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure for a nose triumph over Saudi Crown in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan, Fort Bragg stalked the pace set by Saudi Crown and challenged for the lead at the top of the lane, coming to even terms with his rival and dueling the length of the stretch as a stubborn Saudi Crown would not give in along the rail. Fort Bragg dug in under Hall of Famer John Velazquez and got his nose down first in a final time 1:35.37.
Fort Bragg’s effort came after recovering from a fever that forced him to scratch from the Grade 1 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun on June 10. He spent the past three weeks training at Belmont under the supervision of trainer John Terranova and his wife and assistant, Tonja, who reported the son of Tapit emerged well from his effort this morning.
“He looks great today,” said Terranova. “It was a great effort considering he had been sick and had to scratch.”
Fort Bragg notched his first stakes victory after earning graded black type with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity in December and a close second to General Jim in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on May 6 at Churchill Downs. He was purchased for $700,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.
FMQ Stables’ Saudi Crown made his stakes debut for two-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Brad Cox, entering with a perfect 2-for-2 record that included a first-out maiden score in April at Keeneland and a last-out victory in a first-level allowance sprint in May at Churchill. The son of Always Dreaming also earned a 106 Beyer for an effort that saw him fight back valiantly in his first real challenge after winning his first two starts by a combined 6 1/2 lengths.
“He’s a very nice horse and fought on, and he’s got a stake with his name on it for sure,” said Dustin Dugas, Cox’s Belmont-based assistant. “He ate up good, jogged good and his temperature was good. Everything is in good order. He’s one that Brad has always been high on.”
Out of the unraced Tapit mare New Narration, Saudi Crown was a $240,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where he breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds flat.