Charge It draws away under John Velazquez to win the Suburban (Joe Labozzetta)
By Ryan Martin – NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.—Whisper Hill Farm’s Kentucky homebred Charge It ran exactly how his 3-5 odds suggested he would, setting a moderate tempo down the backstretch and drawing away in the stretch under little urging to earn his second graded win in Saturday’s 137th running of the 10-furlong Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban for older horses, at Belmont Park.
Mandy Pope, owner of Whisper Hill Farm, expressed excitement in now owning a potential commercial stallion prospect.
“It’s always wonderful to win any graded race, but the Suburban here at Belmont is a good stallion-making race looking forward to his next career,” Pope said. “We’re really happy to have won and to have won so easily and not take too much out of him.”
The Suburban kicked off graded stakes action on Saturday, which also includes the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational in Race 10; the Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational in Race 8; and the Grade 3, $175,000 Victory Ride in Race 11. The Suburban awards the top-four finishers a free entry into the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 2 at Saratoga Race Course.
Charge It, a 4-year-old gray son of Tapit, made amends from a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 10 at Belmont. Despite having never won past 1 1/16 miles, the added ground appeared to be no deterrence for Charge It, who captured the local one-mile Grade 3 Dwyer last year by an astounding 23 lengths.
Graded-stakes placed Red Run broke on top through an opening quarter-mile in 24.49 seconds over the fast main track but Charge It, from post 4, matched strides with his foe passing the chute and established command while racing several paths wide under Hall of Famer John Velazquez. Charge It maintained his advantage through a half-mile in 48.12 as Clapton, Tonal Impact and Unbridled Bomber attempted to launch bids from the rear of the dense field.
Around the far turn, Charge It completed three-quarters in 1:11.80 with Clapton beginning to advance into second under Emisael Jaramillo and Red Run tiring toward the inside. Velazquez saw no serious threats passing the quarter-pole as he peeked behind from both directions and kept his mount to task with Clapton continuing to make up ground. Charge It’s class prevailed in the end as he crossed the wire a 4 3/4-length winner in a final time of 2:01.31.
Clapton finished another four lengths ahead of Unbridled Bomber, who beat out Red Run by a neck for third. Tonal Impact completed the order of finish.
Charge It won his 2023 debut in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimer in February at Gulfstream before finishing second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile in March and fifth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April.
Velazquez, who rode Charge It for the first time in last year’s Dwyer, piloted the colt to his Met Mile effort, and said the biggest difference was the break.
“Last time, he broke slow and I tried to put him into the game. I was so far back and all of a sudden he took hold of the bridle and I was moving towards the leaders, but I wasn’t going to be that dumb and let him go from eighth to first,” said Velazquez, a now three-time Suburban winner. “So, I took a hold of him and I let him loose in the turn. He kind of got confused and he kind of stayed the same pace all the way around. After looking back, obviously he ran a really good race and if he had [broke better] last time and be in a better position, he would have been right there. Today, it was a different story. [He was the] speed and was close, he used some momentum and that’s the way it worked out.”
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, who also notched his third Suburban conquest, said the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 5 at Saratoga is now a viable option for Charge It. The nine-furlong test is a “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita.
“We’re happy with his performance today. We’ll talk to everyone and consider the Whitney,” Pletcher said. “It was a good win for him. It proved he could stay a mile and a quarter. The spacing is pretty good if we want to consider the Whitney, which is obviously going to be a more difficult assignment, but he’s always been a horse that’s impressed us as a top-class horse. Maybe he’s starting to put it all together.”
Pletcher said there were no anxious moments during the race.
“He was in cruise control throughout,” Pletcher said. “He left him off the rail a little bit to keep him relaxed, but he was traveling so well and it was coming pretty easily to him, you don’t want to take that away.”
Jaramillo praised Clapton’s effort and said the Arindel Florida homebred gives it his all every time. The 4-year-old Brethren chestnut was third in Charge It’s allowance triumph two starts before capturing Gulfstream’s Grade 3 Ghostzapper at 21-1 odds.
“It was a good race and he’s a good horse,” Jaramillo said. “He’s adapted to every track he runs at. I’m very happy with the performance today. He’s a horse where every time he runs, he’s a longshot – and every time, he runs well. I’m really, really happy.”
Charge It returned $3.30 for a $2 win wager and banked $192,500 in victory, which brought his lifetime earnings up to $717,600 and record to 10-4-3-0.
Charge It is out of the Indian Charlie mare I’ll Take Charge, whose Grade 1-winning and producing dam Take Charge Lady was the mother of 2013 Champion 3-Year-Old Colt Will Take Charge, Grade 1-winner Take Charge Indy and Charming – the dam of Grade 1-winning millionaire Omaha Beach and 2014 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi.
Live racing resumes on Sunday with a nine-race card for Closing Day of the Belmont spring/summer meet. First post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern.