ELMONT, N.Y. — Experiencing no ill effects from his trip to the Middle East earlier this year, Casa Creed got clear with just enough time in the stretch of the Grade 1, $400,000 Jaipur on Saturday at Belmont Park to get up to win the race for the second straight year for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and owners LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable.
The 38th running of the Jaipur for 3-year-olds and up was contested at six furlongs on the Widener turf course, where Casa Creed has found a home in one-turn events. Although he began his career primarily as a turf miler, the slight turnback in distance has really agreed with the son of Jimmy Creed, who is now 3-for-6 in turf sprints and undefeated at Belmont in such races.
“It’s great to get back-to-back wins in the Jaipur with him,” said Mott. “He’s a neat horse. He’s a real warrior who’s gotten better with age. We finally found out what he wants to do. He wants to run in the Jaipur every year.”
In victory, Casa Creed secured a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint going 5 1/2-furlongs in November at Keeneland.
Mott said the abbreviated distance at Keeneland may be too short for him, but that a start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave on August 13 at Saratoga Race Course, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, could be in the cards.
“He really needs more than five, five and a half furlongs,” Mott said. “Six and seven is better, so we’ll see what’s next for him [at Saratoga].”
Casa Creed also won the Elusive Quality on the Belmont turf before taking last year’s Jaipur, but he hadn’t won since that effort after a tough-luck fifth in the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs and being stretched in distance for a pair of starts in the second half of his 2021 campaign.
The bay horse kicked off 2022 with a near miss in the Group 3 Turf Sprint Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Saudi Arabia, and again acquitted himself well in Dubai with a solid fifth-place finish in the Group 3 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. While a Dubai “bounce” might have been expected from him in the Jaipur, Casa Creed was given plenty of time to recuperate by his connections and nothing on track suggested he was anything deleterious from his overseas excursion.
Breaking from post 4 with Luis Saez in the irons, Casa Creed left the gate smoothly and flashed a bit more early speed than the late-running horse is accustomed to showing as he took up position in midpack behind True Valour, who led the field through fractions of 22.36 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.94 for the half over the firm going with race-favorite Arrest Me Red perched just to his outside.
As True Valour and Arrest Me Red took off for home still in front, Casa Creed cut the corner beautifully into the stretch and quickly found himself on the heels of the pacesetters. Remaining glued to the rail in upper stretch, Saez made a decisive move to angle his horse to their outside at the eighth pole, which proved to be a winning one as now with ample clearance, Casa Creed mowed down the leaders to prevail by a half-length over Arrest Me Red in a final time of 1:07.44.
“This horse is a pretty nice horse, he can really run. He just has to have the right trip,” said Saez. “Today, we had a good trip. When he ran in Saudi Arabia, the track was soft. It didn’t help him that much but he still ran well and finished second a neck. I’m pretty happy for the trainer and owner especially, they’re like family so I’m blessed to be a part.
“I had a little room on the rail but it was tricky because the favorite was outside. I just went to the best path and went to the outside and he got the job done,” Saez added.
Bred in Kentucky by Silver Springs Stud, Casa Creed paid $10.40 on a $2 win wager and padded his sizable bankroll of $1.2 million with another $220,000 in purse earnings.
Trained by turf-sprint guru Wesley Ward, Arrest Me Red delivered another strong performance in defeat. The 4-year-old Pioneerof the Nile colt had won 4-of-5 turf-sprint tries entering the Jaipur, all of which came since Ward took over his training duties as a sophomore in 2021.
“He ran his race, just got beat on the squares,” said Ward. “He did everything right, and Irad rode a beautiful race.”
Another reformed turf router like the winner, True Valour continued his remarkable recovery as an 8-year-old to finish third, just a half-length behind Arrest Me Red. The son of Kodiac, trained by Graham Motion for Larry Johnson, was away from the races for more than a year before he returned to take the King Leatherbury at Laurel Park on April 23.
“He ran awesome. He’s such a trier,” said Motion. “I was so impressed with how he dug in with them at the top of the stretch. He’s not too bad for an 8-year-old. He loves it. He’s such a cool horse.”
The lone mare in the race, Change of Control, finished fourth, two lengths behind True Valour. Whatmakessammyrun checked in fifth and was followed home by Greyes Creek, Gregorian Chant, Smokin’ Jay, Omaha City, Gear Jockey, Scuttlebuzz, Filo Di Arianna and Chasing Artie.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont with a nine-race card featuring the $150,000 Jersey Girl for sophomore fillies going six furlongs on the main track in Race 3 at 2:03 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1 p.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.
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Photo by Chelsea Durand