Belmont Stakes Contenders
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Black-Eyed Susan Day
Ahmed Ajtebi celebrates aboard Vale of York with trainer Saeed bin Suroor to the right.
The $2 million Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) is for 2-year-old colts and geldings going 1 1/16 miles on the main track, and is regarded as an early preview for next year's Triple Crown. Top local hope Lookin at Lucky was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 13, exiting three straight victories in the Best Pal, Del Mar Futurity, and Norfolk. In to challenge him included 6-1 second choice Noble's Promise, winner of the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, and 61-10 third choice Aikenite, second in the Breeders' Futurity after finishing third in the Hopeful.
The cavalry charge down the stretch with eventual winner Vale of York in the center and Looking At Lucky on the outside.
50-1 outsider Piscitelli was sent to the front by jockey Kent Desormeaux and he set an uncontested pace of 24.26 and 48.78 while as many as 2 1/2 lengths in front of 7-1 D'Funnybone. On the far turn, Piscitelli's lead was down to a length through 3/4 in 1:13.02, as Noble's Promise swept by to take the lead at the 3/16 pole. In the final 1/16, 31-1 Vale of York charged to the front from 4th and held off late-running favorite Lookin at Lucky late to get the win by a head in 1:43.48. It was just 1/2 a length back to Noble's Promise third.
This was the first Breeders' Cup win for jockey Ahmed Ajtebi who was a camel jockey as a child.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Vale of York Ajtebi 63.20 24.40 12.40 13 Lookin At Lucky Gomez 4.40 3.00 4 Noble's Promise Martinez 4.60 Winning Time: 1:43.48 $1 Exacta 7-13 167.40 $1 Trifecta 7-13-4 1,181.10 $1 Superfecta 7-13-4-2 29,929.90Results chart
Left: Vale of York in the winner's circle.
Right: The trophy presentation with Ned Duggan of sponsor Grey Goose Vodka, Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, and trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Bin Suroor said, "He ran a huge race. I fancied the horse before the race. He was improving all the time. He ran a big race last time when he finished second in a Group 1 (Gran Criterium) in Italy. Every time he's come for a race he's handled everything really well. He's a tough horse, and next year we'll bring him for the Kentucky Derby."
Left: Vale of York in the post parade.
Right: Vale of York gets a quick wash down with cold water before going to the barn after the race. Jockey Ahmed Ajtebi said, No difficulties today. I had a very good trip. The last time I rode this horse (in the Gran Criterium) about three weeks ago in Italy he was very unlucky. We were going to win, and he saw the crowd and he stopped himself. By the time I got him going, we got beat. He was unlucky to lose the time before that also. Today it all went well. When I shifted him out, he just went and he was strong enough at the finish to get it done."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Lookin At Lucky returns after the race. Trainer Bob Baffert said, He showed today what a good horse he is. It's just frustrating to know you have much the best horse and to come up short like that. I didn't give him any chance at all at the half-mile pole. At least you know that you can look forward to the Derby." Jockey Garrett Gomez added, "For a young horse to keep on doing what he did, and when that horse came to him and he could fight with something, accelerate and show me that much more, makes me really excited about next year."
Right: Third place finisher Noble's Promise in the post parade. Jockey Willie Martinez said, "Just 1/2 length away from history. We had a great trip. I kind of placed him where he wanted to be. I tried to be as patient as I could be. We just got run down. I'm very proud of my horse. He's going to be a real nice 3-year-old." Trainer Ken McPeek added, "The work we missed a couple of weeks ago because of the infection he had got us beat today. He just got a little weary in the last few jumps, but he ran great. We were behind the 8-ball a little with this horse. I didn't even think we were going to be able to run two weeks ago. But we got it together, and he ran super."
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