There may have been no horse going for racing’s coveted Triple Crown but that did not take away from two days of great and high calibre racing at Belmont Park’s festival of racing anchored by the Belmont Stakes.
Chad Brown got things started on Friday when Separationofpowers got back to her winning ways under a wire to wire ride in the Grade 3 Bed of Roses. Jose put last year’s Test winner right on the lead and they never looked back.
Fore Left made things look just as easy cruising to victory under Mario Gutierrez for trainer Doug O’ Neill in the Tremont for two-year olds. This young colt looked like he could have sprinted all the way back to California.
John Sadler’s Catalina Cruiser, another California shipper looked to be in trouble early under Joel Rosario in the Grade 2 True North. he stumbled out of the gate and was further off the pace than expected. It didn’t matter as he finished powerfully to get up and take the win. Whitmore didn’t fire and was far back the whole way.
The Grade 2 New York was another in the books for Chad Brown as Homerique made it two for two since coming to Chad’s barn and the US under Irad Ortiz Jr. The classy filly had no problem with the mile and a quarter and once again beat stablemate Competitionofideas.
The two mile Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup went to European invader Amade (IRE) who was adding Lasix for the first time for trainer Alessandro Botti. Flavien Prat had the horse out in the middle of the turf course down the stretch but it didn’t matter.
On Saturday Luis Saez put Majid right on the front end to start the stakes off in the Easy Goer. Trained by Rudy Rodriquez they never looked back and took them gate to wire.
There was no surprise in the Grade 1 Just a Game as heavily favored Rushing Fall used her speed to take the field wire to wire over the turf under Javier Castellano for Chad Brown. That was Chad’s third victory in the festival series to that point.
Midnight Bisou again showed her class and talent rallying from last at one point to take the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps under a sweet and smooth ride by Mike Smith. Steve Asmussen has kept this gal in fine form over two seasons now and she looks like she is actually still getting better.
Dirt, turf, whatever! World of Trouble showed he is without question one of the best sprinters around regardless of surface. He ran away with the Grade 1 Jaipur over the 6 furlongs on the Belmont Turf as the odds on favorite. Manny Franco put the speedy Jason Servis trained runner on the engine early and the result was never really in doubt.
The fourth win in the festival series by a Chad Brown runner was one of the most impressive of the weekend. Guarana, who had a single race, a maiden special weight debut win under her belt ran away and hid from the field in the Grade 1 Acorn. In doing so under Jose Ortiz she not only humbled several stakes runners including Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress, she set a new stakes record. Impressive for any start let alone just her second outing. Serengeti Empress broke bad, and did not have the best of trips but it likely didn’t matter. Of note Jose Ortiz took off the Oaks winner to ride the maiden winner. His brother Irad picked up Serengeti Empress.
Hog Creek Hustle rallied from off the pace down the middle of the track to take the Grade 1 Woody Stephens under Corey Lanerie. trained by Vickie Foley he had to withstand a steward’s inquiry for coming out and bothering Mind Control. The result stood and it appears it was the right call. Mind Control was not really gaining or finishing strong at the time. Although he did pick it up again late it was questionable if the incident cost him a better placing.
The Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile (Met Mile) was billed as the race of the year and it did not disappoint. Mitole stalked the pace under a heady ride by Ricardo Santana Jr. and took over in the stretch to win. Thunder Snow caught some stretch traffic and wound up third but it did not look like he was going to beat the winner. McKinzie is another story. He might have beat the winner or at the least made things a lot closer. He broke a bit slow and was stuck on the inside while trying to weave through horses down the stretch. Mike Smith took him outside and back inside trying to get a lane to rally in but by the time he did Mitole had the jump and was on his way to the wire first. This was win number two over the weekend for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Chad Brown got win number 5 with Bricks and Mortar in the Grade 1 Manhattan. Irad Ortiz Jr. sat off the pace, found a clear lane in the stretch and rallied this turf star to the wire. Stablemate Robert Bruce hit some traffic but probably would not have beat the winner.
Joel Rosario gave Mark Casse’s “other horse” Sir Winston a strong and crafty ride to garnish the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. Rosario sat off the pace saving ground on the rail, and used his strength and agility to angle his mount outside in the stretch and create a seam where many riders would not have been able to do so. Once he accomplished that he had the first run on Tacitus, the race favorite who finished a closing second. Tacitus who broke from the outside 10 post was never able to save any ground under Jose Ortiz and that looked to have cost him considerably in the mile and a half contest. Some thought there should have been a disqualification for Rosario’s move to angle Sir Winston outside. It looked like some needed and aggressive race riding but not cause for a disqualification.
The weekend of stakes closed out with Marconi under Jose Lezcano for Todd Pletcher taking the Grade 2 Brooklyn also at the Belmont distance of a mile and a half.
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