Bold Journey From Last to First in G3 Fall Highweight

November 24, 2023

Bold Journey captures the Fall Highweight (Chelsea Durand)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber and Pantofel Stable’s Bold Journey delivered a winning last-to-first performance with a trip much like his own name in Friday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and guided to victory with a well-timed ride from Jose Ortiz [128 pounds], the New York-bred Bold Journey collected his first stakes victory with a wide late bid down the stretch to collar post-time favorite Durante just in time and post the one-length score.

Ortiz said the ambitious trip was nothing new for Bold Journey, who entered from a narrow score in an open-company optional claimer going the same distance on October 12.

“He likes to do that, especially when there’s a little bit of pace to help him,” said Ortiz. “The last couple times we’ve been sitting at the back and making one run and it worked out for me both times. The horse is doing very good. Mr. Mott has him in great form and I’m happy to win today.”

The 4-year-old son of Hard Spun was away slowly from the inside and trailed the field while the Manny Franco-piloted Durante, who carried a field-high 134 points, broke sharply to his outside from post 4. Durante established command through an opening quarter-mile in 22.68 seconds over the fast main track with Win for Gold in second ahead of a slow-starting Rotknee and Cowan in a tight bunch.

Durante continued to dictate terms into the turn with Win for Gold applying pressure to his outside, with the race seemingly between those two as Bold Journey continued to trail while angling outside after the half-mile in 46.06. Durante, who tossed his head slightly as Win for Gold matched his stride, dug in determinedly to hold a narrow advantage over his foe at the eighth pole, but Bold Journey was finding his best stride and flew down the middle of the course under left-handed encouragement from Ortiz.

Ortiz switched to his right hand just past the sixteenth marker and wrapped up with confidence as Bold Journey swept past Durante with ease to complete the course in 1:10.91. Durante held place by 1 1/2 lengths over third-place Rotknee and fourth-place Cowan, who dueled with each other strongly down the stretch and passed a tiring Win for Gold late. Sir Alfred James was scratched.

Ortiz said the slow break from the Dylan Davis-piloted Rotknee, who steadied slightly down the backstretch, helped lead to Durante being the lone target to catch.

“I was anticipating that and Rotknee didn’t break that well otherwise the pace would have been more aggressive,” Ortiz said. “Everything should have unfolded a bit easier for me, but Manny was able to clear him and unfortunately Dylan had to take a hold and that horse doesn’t like that, he likes to run free. I was a little nervous when I saw Dylan had to take a hold because I figured the pace wasn’t going to be as fast as I thought it could be. Approaching the quarter-pole, I was approaching the field nice and easy and when I asked him to go he responded very well.”

Love for Bold Journey after his victory (Susie Raisher)

Franco, who guided Durante to a strong win last out in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler on October 27 here, said the high weight was a tough challenge for the David Jacobson trainee.

“He’s a little uncomfortable [turning his head in the stretch run] but that’s the way he runs, just got to get used to it,” said Franco. “He carried a lot of weight – the winner carried 128 pounds and I had 134, six pounds is a lot.

“There was a lot of speed in the race but my horse is fast and I didn’t want to take anything away from him,” Franco added. “He broke good and I put him where he likes – we were just second best.”

Bred in the Empire State by Fred W. Hertrich, III and John D. Fielding, Bold Journey is now the second graded stakes-winner out of the winning Super Saver mare Polly Freeze, who also produced Grade 1-winning New York-bred millionaire Americanrevolution.

Bold Journey made just his fourth start in stakes company in 19 starts, his previous best finish coming with a second in the one-mile Gander against fellow state-breds last February. He banked $110,000 in victory, boosting his total purse earnings to $486,243 through a record of 19-6-6-0 while returning $6.20 for a $2 win wager.

Live racing resumes Saturday at the Big A with 10-race card, featuring the Grade 3, $200,000 Comely in Race 9. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.  

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