ELMONT, N.Y. — Trainer Chad Brown and owner Peter Brant’s Bleecker Street remained unblemished on Friday at Belmont Park, closing furiously down the center of the inner turf course to overcome a soft pace and capture the $750,000 New York in its inaugural year as a Grade 1 event.
Brown and Brant, who previously teamed up to win the New York in 2019 with Homerique, surprised no one with their victory in the 79th running of the race. The trainer/owner combo accounted for four of the New York’s seven entrants this year, and their stranglehold on the race was on full display in the wagering as Bleecker Street herself, entering the race with a perfect 6-for-6 record intact, wasn’t even the top choice among their runners. That honor instead went to Rougir, a European import purchased for $3.3 million at the end of 2021 who turned heads with her win in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 14 at Belmont.
Despite Brown and Brant’s strong hand, however, the outcome was very much in doubt in the final moments of the race as Rougir failed to fire and Bleecker Street needed nearly every inch of the 1 1/4-mile trip to prevail, due in large part to tepid splits set by their stablemate Flighty Lady.
Flighty Lady went out to lead the field through an honest opening quarter-mile in 24.54 seconds over the firm footing, but backed the pace down considerably from there, going a half in 50.76 and three-quarters in 1:16.48 with Family Way glued to her in second. The leading duo picked things up around the far turn, clocking a mile in an accelerating 1:40.12, and the sprint for home commenced with Family Way, a Brendan Walsh trainee, sticking her neck in front of Flighty Lady.
Still in last as the field reached the stretch run, Irad Ortiz, Jr. angled Bleecker Street to the far outside and the pair came with a relentless rally to surge by Family Way to complete the distance in 2:02.58, having to go the final quarter-mile in a sparkling sub-22 seconds to get the job done.
“Her closing kick, especially with those slow fractions, was nice,” said Ortiz, Jr. “Not too many horses can go around a slow pace, slow fractions, like that. I made a wide move to go around and she still got there. She gave me a good kick. She’s very nice. They were backing up into me a little bit and they were a little slow and then everybody was sprinting home, so it was hard to catch them. But she got the job done.”
Bleecker Street, who began her career last year racing in New Jersey with Beyer Speed Figures of 65 and 63, continued her ascent to the top of the filly and mare turf division, now with a record of seven wins from seven starts and earnings of $834,700. As the second choice in the race, she returned $7.70 on a $2 win wager.
“What a remarkable horse,” said Brown. “I wasn’t sure about a mile and a quarter. She finished her races like she would get it, but as you know, handicapping doesn’t always work out that way. Just because they’re closing and you keep on stretching them out, sometimes it has to do with pace, when they make their move and how long their move is. This filly does everything we put at her. What a remarkable horse – where she started and where she came from. She’s moving up in the ranks of one of the better ones I’ve had.”
Bred in Kentucky by Branch Equine, Bleecker Street was purchased for $400,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale.
Having lost a decision to Virginia Joy, third choice among the Brown/Brant quartet, over the winter at Gulfstream Park, Family Way improved markedly and ran a cracking race under Tyler Gaffalione to nearly upset the New York, finishing a half-length behind Bleecker Street in second.
“I’m very pleased,” said Gaffalione. “All credit to Brendan. He and his team brought this filly over ready to run and she fired a big one. You figured they’re going to be coming. I tried to track the rabbit as long as I could and get the jump on them, but we just couldn’t hold them off. My filly ran a big race. Nothing to hold our heads down about.”
Flighty Lady, who was sent off at a whopping 51-1 for a Brown runner, stayed on doggedly to nab third over stablemate Virginia Joy, while the trainer had no answers for the odds-on favorite Rougir in fifth.
“She just didn’t fire today,” said Brown. “She was in a good spot, always ahead of Bleecker Street. We didn’t have any excuse. We’ll go back to the drawing board. Maybe the softer ground in her form suggested [she prefers softer turf], but she certainly trained really well at Belmont.”
A pair of longshots, Core Values and Lovely Lucky, completed the order of finish.
Live racing resumes Saturday at Belmont Park with a 13-race Belmont Stakes Day card boasting eight Grade 1 events, highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. First post is 11:20 a.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
NYRA Press Office
Photo of Bleeker Street by NYRA/Coglianese