Elite Power once again lives up to his name and captures the True North impressively (Jetta Vaughns)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.— Juddmonte’s reigning Champion Male Sprinter Elite Power extended his winning streak to seven when posting an off-the-pace score in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 True North, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older horses, to kick off stakes action for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets card.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 2022 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner notched his fourth graded/group victory with an outside rush under Irad Ortiz, Jr. He earned his second win of the year and first since returning from a successful trip to Saudi Arabia that netted an impressive win in the Group 3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.
“He got the job done. I noticed the fractions, 23 and change, weren’t overly quick, but he’s still got a pretty good punch to him,” said Mott, who won his fourth True North, tying fellow Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher for most wins by a trainer in this event. “He really is [exceptional]. It’s turning out that way. He’s gotten very good.”
Sent to post as the 3-5 mutuel favorite, Elite Power emerged cleanly from stall 4 and settled into a stalking position near the rear of the six-horse field as the New York-bred Today’s Flavor broke sharply from the inside post and rushed up to take command through an opening quarter-mile in 23.25 seconds over the fast main track.
Strobe kept close to the pace to the outside of Today’s Flavor in second as longshot Synthesis attempted to advance up the rail but was abruptly shut off by a drifting Anarchist and steadied down the backstretch, all while a patient Ortiz, Jr. held Elite Power widest of all in fourth as the field approached the turn with the half-mile in 46.12.
Today’s Flavor was challenged mid-turn by Strobe to his outside and faded with Elite Power ranging up strongly down the center of the course with powerful strides under confident handling from Ortiz, Jr. Elite Power proved too much for his rivals and swiftly drew away down the stretch while Anarchist gave chase and found his best stride late, but there was no denying the Champion, who crossed the wire first by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:15.65.
Anarchist held place honors by 3 3/4 lengths over Strobe with Today’s Flavor settling for fourth. Fearless, who was never involved, and the troubled Synthesis completed the order of finish.
It was the second True North win for Ortiz, Jr., who got back aboard Elite Power for the second time in his career after piloting him to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Keeneland. Ortiz, Jr. said Elite Power was all class in victory.
“He’s such a nice and exciting horse,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He broke well in the clear and put me in a perfect spot. He was close enough to run them down. I just left him there and when I asked him, he responded right away.
“He was great last year,” Ortiz, Jr. added. “You can see his performances and campaign last year was great. I’m hoping he’s the same or better than he was last year, so far it looks great. He hasn’t made any mistakes out there. He looks like he’s doing great right now.”
Garrett O’Rourke, general manager of American operations for Juddmonte, said Elite Power has charted unfamiliar waters as a rare dirt sprinter for the ownership, who have previously campaigned top American route horses Arrogate, Empire Maker and Aptitude, among others.
“We have had a lot of nice horses over the years,” O’Rourke said. “The oddity of this guy is that dirt sprinting isn’t anything we’ve ever really geared our program for. Obviously, we purchased this guy and it’s really nice that for the first time we’re winning races that we hadn’t before. These are races that we’d never even competed in before. This is very satisfying. It was a perfect training job and a perfect riding job.”
Mott said he may point Elite Power towards the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on July 29 at Saratoga Race Course for a chance at a second top-level conquest.
Elite Power’s win streak dates to a fourth-out maiden win just over one year ago at Churchill Downs, which was followed by a pair of allowance scores at Churchill and Saratoga Race Course last summer. He won his first graded event in the Grade 2 Vosburgh in October at Belmont at the Big A, a victory that awarded him a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The son of Curlin ensured his Championship honors with an impressive 1 1/4-length win in that event to cap his 4-year-old campaign.
Bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stables, Elite Power banked $137,500 in victory while improving his lifetime record to 10-7-0-1. He returned $3.50 for a $2 win wager.
Joel Rosario, who rallied Anarchist from third to secure runner-up honors, said the Doug O’Neill-trained colt gave his best effort.
“It was a good trip. He broke really well,” Rosario said. “He stayed right behind the two speed horses. The other horse just came with a strong finish. Nice horse there, but our horse ran really good. It was a good second place.”
Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont with an 11-race card, featuring the $150,000 Astoria in Race 2, the $150,000 Jersey Girl in Race 5, the $150,000 Tremont in Race 9 and the Grade 2, $200,000 Wonder Again in Race 10. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.