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Spring Quality takes his walk down Victory Lane after winning the Manhattan Stakes
Of the three Triple Crown races, the undercard of the Belmont Stakes has the most prestigious races on its undercard. This year, the 90,327 fans in attendance at "Big Sandy" on Long Island were also treated to 10 stakes (9 graded) which preceded the main event including five Grade 1 events and 3 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series "Win and You're In" qualifiers. Conditions were excellent with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 80's, with the main track rated fast and the two turf courses rated firm.
The cavalry charge down the stretch
Hi Happy and 48-1 Hello Don Julio dueled for the lead through fractions of 24.08, 48.54, and 1:12.01 while stalked by Beach Patrol. At the top of the lane Hello Don Julio gained a short lead through 1 mile in 1:34.95 and 9f in 1:46.96 before tiring. 18-1 Spring Quality, 11th early under Edgar Prado, came out 8 wide for the drive and outfinished 11-2 Sadler's Joy by a neck for the win in 1:58.58. It was a neck back to Hi Happy third, while Beach Patrol tired badly to finish last.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 13 Spring Quality Prado 38.00 15.80 9.40 8 Sadler's Joy Castellano 6.60 4.40 3 Hi Happy Saez 4.30 Winning Time: 1:58.58 $1 Exacta 13-8 155.25 $1 Trifecta 13-8-3 831.00 $1 Superfecta 13-8-3-11 10,648.00
Left: Spring Quality in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Graham Motion said, "I hated the post position, but he had a great trip, considering the post. We felt like there was quite a lot of pace. The one thing we had to do was save ground; that was the most important thing. We saved ground on the first turn and I loved where he was down the backside. He had to swing a little wide coming off the bend, but he's really special. How about two years in a row, winning this race with a long shot? It's pretty crazy." Winning jockey Edgar Prado said, "He broke OK and I was able to tuck right in and save some ground most of the turn. When I asked him, he kicked right in. You look at the program (post 13), but when the gate opened, everything changed. I was able to tuck in."
Right: Last place finisher and beaten favorite Beach Patrol in the post parade.
The $1.2 million Metropolitan Handicap (G1) featured a field of 11 older horses going 1 mile around 1 turn of the main track. Sexton Mile (G3) winner Bee Jersey was the 3-1 favorite over 4-1 Mind Your Biscuits, winner of the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), and 9-2 Awesome Slew, 3rd in the Churchill Downs (G2).
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. sent Bee Jersey to the lead through fractions of 23.08, 45.71, and 1:09.28 while pressed by 16-1 One Liner and stalked by 11-2 Bolt d'Oro. Entering the lane, Bee Jersey continued to lead through 7f in 1:20.93. Mind Your Biscuits, 6th early under Joel Rosario, put in a strong 4 wide rally but Bee Jersey held him off by a nose in 1:33.13. It was a long 5 1/4 lengths bac to 15-1 Limousine Liberal third.
Full results chart
Left: Bee Jersey in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Steve Asmussen said, It played out the way we wanted. He broke cleanly, Ricardo got away with a very soft first quarter then they applied pressure on him from there. Twenty two and change for the second quarter, then the race was on in the third quarter and thirty three to a mile. He's a fabulous miler. This was the goal with the horse at the beginning of the year and now I think we'll regroup from here and think of how to get him to the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile in the best condition. [At the sixteenths-pole] He looked good. When he got away from there cleanly like he did I loved it. He picked it up to the wire."
Right: Bee Jersey heads out to the track. Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said, "The horse broke sharply like he always does. We were sitting in a nice spot. I loved the position I was in for the first quarter [mile]. I slowed down and he came back to me. He was in a great position and when I turned for home, I let him go a little bit. He ran an amazing race. My horse is a fighter and he showed it today. He was waiting for the other horses and when my horse felt [Mind Your Biscuits], he took off again. He gave me a second kick to pass the wire first."
A field of 8 older fillies and mares went 1 mile on the Widener turf course in the $700,000 Longines Just a Game Stakes (G1). Jenny Wiley (G1) third place finisher Off Limits was the 9-5 favorite over 7-2 A Raving Beauty, winner of the Beaugay (G3), and 9-2 Lull, winner of the Honey Fox (G2).
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Lull to the front exiting the chute through fractions of 23.34, 46.37, and 1:08.82 while pressed by 14-1 La Coronel and stalked by A Raving Beauty. Turning for home, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. sent A Raving Beauty to the lead through 7f in 1:19.90. 7-1 Proctor's Ledge rallied from 4th but A Raving Beauty held her off by 3/4 lengths in 1:32.14. It was another 1/2 length back to Lull third and a neck more to favorite Off Limits fourth.
Full results chart
Left: A Raving Beauty in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Chad Brown said, "She didn't want to load. She can be a little headstrong as you can see from both of her races, and Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] used those good hands of his to really settle her down. I thought he made a really important decision early when La Coronel decided to move down the backside to just stay behind her and get her to relax and maybe drop the bit a little. Then she responded and she switched off nicely and came with that good turn of foot that she showed in her first start."
Right: A Raving Beauty takes her walk down Victory Lane. Trainer Chad Brown added, "We took our time with her [A Raving Beauty] since she's come into the program and she's really taken to the program well. I've been impressed with her development and each of her works has gotten better. We showed a lot of confidence her first time in this country putting her in a graded stakes [Grade 3 Beaugay] last time and she delivered and ran really well [in the win].
The first graded stakes on Saturday was the $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) featuring a field of 6 older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles around 1 turn of the main track. Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) runner-up and La Troienne (G1) 4th place finisher Abel Tasman was sent off as the even-money favorite over 7-2 Pacific Wind, winner of the Ruffian (G2), and 9-2 Unbridled Mo, winner of the Apple Blossom (G1).
Jockey Javier Castellano sent 8-1 Ivy Bell to lead exiting the chute through an opening quarter of 23.58 before Abel Tasman took over through fractions of 46.36 and 1:10.05. Into the stretch Abel Tasman left the field in her wake, opening up a 2 length lead through 1 mile in 1:34.25. Kept to task by Mike Smith, Abel Tasman drew off to win by 7 1/2 lengths in 1:40.36. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Unbridled Mo third.
Full results chart
Left: Abel Tasman in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "Her race at Churchill Downs was a disappointment. She didn't run well. You could tell today the light got turned on. We got hit back to California (after her last race) and she trained aggressively again. She couldn't have looked any better coming in to this race. She had a little slip at the break but then I could tell she was really on the bridle. When she went up there and made the lead on her own, it was good because she was running her race."
Right: Abel Tasman takes her walk down Victory Lane. Jockey Mike Smith added, "Today I was able to let her get into stride, and she really loves this surface here, too. She loves Belmont Park. Some of her best races have been here, and even last year was just incredible over this track. You know her, she does that every time. She gets away slow and then she makes that big middle move. Sometimes it's better to let her do it, if they're going slow. If they're going fast and she does it, that's when I've gotten myself in trouble and that's happened before. But they were going easy enough that it was ok."
The $700,000 Acorn Stakes (G1) featured top 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the main track. Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Monomoy Girl wsas sent off as the 3-5 choice in the field of 6 over 7-2 Caledonia Road, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and 4-1 Talk Veuve to Me, second in the Eight Belles (G2).
Talk Veuve to Me and 9-1 Moonshine Memories dueled for the lead through fractions of 23.15, 46.48, and 1:10.34 while stalked by Monomoy Girl. Turning for home, jockey Florent Geroux sent Monomoy Girl to the front through 7f in 1:21.80. Monomoy Girl cruised to win by 2 lengths over Talk Veuve to Me in 1:34.10. It was another 4 1/4 lengths back to 24-1 Gio Game third.
Full results chart
Left: Monomoy Girl in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "She's taken her show on the road plenty of times, and obviously undefeated as a 2-year-old, and nearly undefeated in her career but she's a very special filly and we're really proud of her. We probably wouldn't want to shorten her up anything less than a mile so we'll probably stay a mile or further. We've kind of mapped out a bit of a plan. Obviously, things can change as the year moves on but I'm thinking right now the Coaching Club American Oaks then maybe the Cotillion and then the Breeders' Cup, if everything goes to plan. She's done everything we've asked for her."
Right: Monomoy Girl takes her walk down Victory Lane. Jockey Florent Geroux added, "I was in a very good position following [Talk Veuve to Me] next to me and when it was time to go, I just tipped the horse and stayed behind as long as I could and when I was ready to go I let her go. She is great horse especially winning Grade 1s. They are very hard to win and I think she is very special. So far I think she is the leader in the 3-year-old filly division and her main goal, I think, would be the Breeders' Cup, taking on the older fillies."
The $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) featured 11 three-year-olds sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Tampa Bay Derby (G2) runner-up World of Trouble was sent off as the 5-2 favorite over 7-2 Promises Fulfilled, 15th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and 4-1 Engage, winner of the Gold Fever.
Jockey Luis Saez sent Promises Fulfilled to the lead through fractions of 21.46 and 43.68 while pressed by World of Trouble and stalked by 63-1 Pure Shot. Entering the stretch Promises Fulfilled continued to lead through 3/4 in 1:08.43 but 13-1 Still Having Fun, 10th early under Joel Rosario, rallied 6 wide to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Engage in 1:21.45. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to Promises Fulfilled third, and a neck more to favorite World of Trouble fourth.
Full results chart
Left: Still Having Fun in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Timothy Keefe, celebrating his first graded stakes win said, "We just always hoped he was a nice horse. Jimmy gave me some money to go to Timonium like he does every year to buy a horse, and I bought this one. Obviously, he's fulfilled a lot of dreams. For me it just felt like it was going in slow motion and then I looked up at the time and it was 21 and change, and there wasn't any slow motion about that. I talked to Joel [Rosario] and said he's going to be back. He's a closing sprinter and the last quarter of a mile he's got a big kick. Don't leave him too much to do but don't be too impatient with him, and he'll come running."
Right: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite World of Trouble returns after the race.
A field of 8 older horses contested the $300,000 Jaipur Invitational Stakes (G2) at 6 furlongs on the Widener turf looking for automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Last year's winner. Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and Shakertown (G2) third place finisher Disco Partner was sent off as the 3-2 favorite over two horses at 11-2, Holding Gold, 7th in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1), and Blind Ambition, winner of the Elusive Quality.
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche sent 14-1 Pure Sensation to lead through fractions of 22.16 and 44.03 while pressed by 6-1 Conquest Tsunami and stalked by 13-2 Pocket Change. Pure Sensation continued to lead through 5f in 55.11 but Disco Partner, 5th early under Irad Ortiz Jr., rallied 6 wide to win by 1 length over Conquest Tsunami in 1:06.74. It was a head back to Pure Sensation third.
Full results chart
Left: Disco Partner in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Christophe Clement said, "Basically, everything worked out great. He was a bit closer to the pace today. The other horse [Pure Sensation] actually ran a great race because he grabbed a quarter pretty bad and still managed to finish third. "My first feeling when you win these kind of races, it's a great credit to Mr. and Mrs. Genarazio (the owners and breeders). They have a wonderful program and they are great owners and breeders to work for. I'm just a lucky guy to train those kind of horses. "I'm very happy. I'm thrilled. I've won the race two or three times in the last few years and I'm delighted."
Right: Disco Partner returns after the race. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "He broke so good and sharp and put me in a good spot. I held him together and in the mid-pack, I made my move and got him in the clear and by the mile area got him in the stretch, and he took off. He always tries hard. He is a nice horse and it's nice to see him back from his layoff after his race in Keeneland, where he didn't have a good race on the turf - he wasn't comfortable on the soft turf."
The $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes (G2) featured a field of 9 older horses going the Belmont Stakes trip of 1 1/2 miles on the main track. Charles Town Classic (G2) runner-up and last year's winner War Story was sent off as the 9-5 favorite over 3-1 Hoppertunity, 4th in the Alysheba (G2), and 7-2 Hard Study, winner of the Flat Out.
Jockey John Velazquez sent 5-1 Outplay to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.86, 50.66, 1:15.11, and 1:38.89 while pressed by 50-1 Backsideofthemoon and stalked by 51-1 Giant Payday. Turning for home, War Story, 4th early, moved up to lead through 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.25. However, Hoppertunity, 7th early under Flavien Prat, came out 3 wide for room and rallied to win by 2 1/4 lengths over War Story in 2:28.61. It was another 3/4 lengths back to Hard Study third.
Full results chart
Left: Hoppertunity in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "If you manage him the right way and take your time with him, he's good. He gets a little off kilter sometimes, so we back off with him and begin again. Today they went in 1:15 and he was down on the inside and I thought he was going to be a little bit forwardly placed but Flavien knows him really well and it was a good ride by him. I was a little bit worried about him down the backside when he got bottled up there, but this horse is class, he has so much class. He's won Grade 1s. I don't put them on the plane unless they're doing well. He's like the forgotten horse. The stallion farms aren't calling looking to buy him even though he's made all this money so we're just having fun with him."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite War Story heads out to the track.
The first stakes race was the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles around one turn of the main track. Mask was the 7-5 favorite in the field of 7 over 3-1 Breaking the Rules and 7-2 Rugbyman. Jockey Manuel Franco sent 55-1 Lunar Beauty to the lead exiting the chute through fractions of 23.27, 46.26, and 1:10.18 while pressed by 9-2 Dark Vader and stalked by 14-1 Prince Lucky. Entering the lane Lunar Beauty tired allowing Dark Vader to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:34.89, but Prince Lucky passed him and outfinished late-closing Rugbyman to win by a neck in 1:41.41. It was a nose back to Dark Vader third, and 3 more to favorite Mask fourth.
Full results chart
Prince Lucky in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "He had a very good work last week and we decided he was in sharp form and that we would take a shot. The trip at Pimlico [third in the Sir Barton on May 19] is a little hard to analyze because of the fog and conditions, but we felt like we maybe over rated him a little in terms of him taking too much of a hold of him. I told Johnny [Velazquez], 'Anything he is offering on his own, let him have it.'" Jockey John Velazquez added, "I had the perfect trip. I was able to sit back at first and get a feel for the race. He's really matured since the last time I rode him. He seems to be putting it all together and maturing at the right time. Once we came down on the inside, he was full of run and really extended away to the finish."
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