Texas-Bred Closing Act Shakes Clear To Win $150K Astoria

June 11, 2023

Closing Act surges to victory in the Astoria under Irad Ortiz, Jr. (Walter Wlodarczyk)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— Douglas Scharbauer’s Texas homebred Closing Act moved to a perfect 2-for-2 with an off-the-pace victory under Irad Ortiz, Jr. in Sunday’s $150,000 Astoria, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies, at Belmont Park.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the daughter of Munnings added to a debut graduation by a neck on May 11 when sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs where she delivered a similar rallying performance under Tyler Gaffalione.

“She made a few mistakes first time out and we told Irad that we thought she’d be more forwardly placed and more professional, and she was,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen. “She got a lot out of her first race. Super proud of her today. She’s really gone through a growth spurt this month and she’s filling out and looks beautiful.”

Closing Act broke cleanly from the outermost post 5 to track behind the sharp-starting pacesetter Union Suit, who widened her advantage to one length midway down the backstretch and marked an opening quarter-mile in 22.33 seconds over the fast main track while Golden Ghost rated in second and Closing Act went head-to-head with Donate Life for third.

Union Suit maintained her advantage in the turn as Golden Ghost and Donate Life dropped back with Closing Act advancing with purpose on the far outside under coaxing from Ortiz, Jr. It was Closing Act’s race to lose at the top of the lane as she overpowered her pacesetting rival and drew away down the stretch to post the 3 3/4-length victory in a final time of 1:06.59.

Union Suit stayed on for place honors by 1 1/2 lengths over the late-running Living Magic with Golden Ghost and Donate Life completing the order of finish. Low Mileage was scratched.

Ortiz, Jr. said he used his best judgement to decide when to ask Closing Act for her best run.

“She’s nice. She broke pretty well with the field, but when close to the turn the inside horse [Union Suit] got a little advantage on me,” said Ortiz, Jr. “I couldn’t clear anybody so I had to stay there. After that, I had to make her go a little early. It’s only a five and a half [furlong race] so I couldn’t do too much. I just made her go forward and she responded really well so I just kept going.

Closing Act after her triumph, which makes her a perfect 2-for-2 (Susie Raisher)

“She made the lead playing a little bit and got a little lost,” Ortiz, Jr. added. “When she made the lead she was looking around and slowed down a little. So I had to make sure she kept going.”

Blasi said Closing Act could be pointed towards the $150,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Futurity on July 1 at Lone Star Park next.

“We’ll talk to Steve about what’s next. She’s eligible for the Sales Futurity—she is a Texas-bred—so we have options,” said Blasi. “But, you know what, we are really happy to get done what we got done today.”

Closing Act returned $3.40 for a $2 win ticket as the 3-5 mutuel favorite. She banked $82,500 in victory, boosting her total lifetime purse earnings past the six-figure mark to $124,500.

Manny Franco, rider of runner-up Union Suit, said the Graham Motion-trained filly gave her best effort in her stakes debut.

“My filly ran really well and was second-best,” said Franco. “She was straight-forward. In the gate she was a little bit hesitant, but after that, in the race, she was good.”

Live racing resumes Thursday at Belmont with a nine-race card. First post is 3:05 p.m. Eastern.

@PastTheWire Great read brought back some sad memories.The only race she lost killed her. Legacy. @jonathanstettin pic.twitter.com/Jx9WF7OjUe

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