Master Piece Comes Out on Top in G2 Red Smith

November 11, 2023

Master Piece storms to the front and wins the Red Smith (Chelsea Durand)

By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Master Piece prevailed by a neck in turning back a furious late rally from Soldier Rising to capture Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Red Smith, an 11-furlong inner turf test for 3-year-olds and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr. for owners Michael Iavarone, Julia Iavarone, Nicholas Zoumas, Dino Baccari, Frank Argano and Peter Douglass, the 7-year-old Mastercraftsman ridgling secured his second graded score after taking the Grade 2 Eddie Read last year at Del Mar for his previous conditioner Michael McCarthy.

Dutrow, Jr., who saddled White Abarrio for an impressive score in last Saturday’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, said he was thrilled with the effort by Master Piece from post 10 in the 11-horse field.

“I thought when the overnight came out, I didn’t know how we’d possibly be able to run our race with that post, but a couple scratches helped,” Dutrow, Jr. said. “He got an excellent trip, excellent break and excellent ride. He was just ready for them today, he’s a nice horse. He ran big.”

Longshots So High and Tide of the Sea dueled through splits of 24.58 seconds, 48.04 and 1:13 flat over the firm footing, opening up a significant lead down the backstretch as Verstappen tracked comfortably from third position in front of Nineeleventurbo.

Verstappen was given his cue into the final turn with Nineeleventurbo following his move and Master Piece being asked for his best run by Lezcano. Verstappen made the lead at the stretch call but Master Piece, who found his best stride late in the center of the course, came with a surging run with only the Jose Ortiz-piloted Solider Rising as a late concern. Master Piece made the lead inside the final 70 yards and stayed on strong through the wire, turning back Soldier Rising in a final time of 2:14.56.

Via @TVG on Twitter

It was a further half-length back to Verstappen in third with Cross Border, Nineeleventurbo, Limited Liability, Daunt, So High, Marwad, Tide of the Sea and Lost Ark rounding out the order of finish. Main Event, Red Run, Classic Catch, Shawdyshawdyshawdy and main-track only entrant Costa Terra were scratched.

Lezcano said he felt confident throughout.

“I had a good break and the good position I wanted,” Lezcano said. “I asked him at the quarter pole and took him out. From there to the finish line, he ran hard like the good horse that he is. They were going to have to come and get him.”

Master Piece and Lezcano head to the winner’s circle (Susie Raisher)

Master Piece started his current campaign in the care of conditioner Saffie Joseph, Jr., finishing third at Gulfstream Park in both the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida and Grade 2 Pan American before joining up with Dutrow, Jr. for a runner-up effort in an optional-claimer on July 4 at Belmont Park. He arrived at the Red Smith from an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 12 at Colonial Downs.

Dutrow, Jr. said Master Piece has thrived in the fall weather.

“He had been training very, very well for the last couple of months since the weather started to cool off. That’s key for him. He turned into a really good training, good feeling horse. He’s been very, very happy lately,” Dutrow, Jr. said.

The Christophe Clement-trained Soldier Rising completed the exacta for the 10th time in 21 career starts, including four Grade 1 runner-up efforts this year on the NYRA circuit in the Man o’ War and Resorts World Casino Manhattan at Belmont, the Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer at Saratoga and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont at the Big A. The hard-luck horse also finished second in the 2021 Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational.

Ortiz said his charge was game to the wire.

“Beautiful trip and beautiful split at the eighth-pole going between horses, but it seems like this horse likes to finish second so it’s a little frustrating,” Ortiz said. “The whole team, Christophe included, we’ve been trying to do something whether it’s put him in the clear or keep him in the pack. Today, he ran very good. He shows up every time, so we can’t get mad at him. He always shows up, he doesn’t always get there but we’re very optimistic that his ability can get him to win a big one next year.”

Bred in Chile by Haras Don Alberto, Master Piece banked $165,000 in victory while improving his record to 26-7-4-3. He returned $23.60 for a $2 win bet.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct with a nine-race card featuring the Grade 3, $300,000 Long Island in Race 4 and the $150,000 Artie Schiller in Race 8. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

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