ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown continued his dominance of the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy by capturing the nine-furlong inner turf tilt for older horses for the fifth straight year when the French-bred L’Imperator made every pole a winning one on Saturday, at Belmont Park.
Brown, the four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner, won his first Fort Marcy in 2015 with Big Blue Kitten, and has captured this event in consecutive years with Robert Bruce , Olympico , Instilled Regard  and Tribhuvan .
He sent out an uncoupled entry of three horses in Saturday’s seven-horse field, but it was the longest shot in the wagering among the group which prevailed at 10-1 over the yielding turf.
Jockey Eric Cancel put L’Imperator on the lead early in the contest and then walked the dog home to finish up the distance of about 1 1/8 miles in a pedestrian 1:52.97 on a course that was rendered heavy due to inclement weather.
Racing for the partnership of Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Robert LaPenta, L’Imperator set easy fractions of 25.49 seconds, 52.78, 1:19.65 and 1:46.11 before finishing 3 1/4 lengths in front of stablemate Sacred Life. Glynn County crossed the wire another half-length back to take third.
The victory capped a productive day for Brown, who sent out four winners on the card, including Virginia Joy in the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay in Race 3.
“We’ve been fortunate over the years to have horses that fit the condition well,” said Dan Stupp, Brown’s New York-based assistant. “Eric came out here and did a great job putting him on the lead. This horse has hinted at ability, and he showed up today with a great effort.”
Cancel said he decided to take advantage of L’Imperator’s strong burst from the gate.
“It wasn’t really the plan to go to the lead with him but since he broke sharp and he put me there, I just took advantage of it. I didn’t want to take away what he gave me easy, so I just ran with it,” said Cancel, who won back-to-back editions of the Fort Marcy after taking the 2021 edition on Tribhuvan, who is co-owned by Madaket Stables and Wonder Stables. “I’m very blessed that I get these opportunities and I just hope that I keep on getting them. I’ve been here eight years and I just feel very happy to ride these type of races.”
Hector Diaz, Jr., aboard Sacred Life, was full of praise for the Belmont grounds crew.
“The Belmont crew did a wonderful job to keep the turf in shape today so we could use it. My horse ran good, but he struggled a little bit on this kind of surface,” Diaz, Jr. said.
L’Imperator paid $22.80 to win and upped his record to 6-0-2 in 12 starts. The son of Holy Roman Emperor won at Belmont Park for the first time since being brought over from France in 2020 to join Brown’s stable. He had been victorious in 3-of-4 starts in his native land on courses rated soft to heavy.
City Man, the Brown-trained Rockemperor, King Cause, and Starting Over completed the order of finish. Doswell was scratched.
Live racing continues Sunday at Belmont with a nine-race card featuring the Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian in Race 8. First post is 1:00 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.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: L’Imperator (CD Photo)