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Ricardo Santana Jr. celebrates aboard Silver State after winning the Met Mile
Of the three Triple Crown races, the undercard of the Belmont Stakes has the most prestigious races on its undercard. This year, the COVID-restricted 11,238 fans in attendance at "Big Sandy" on Long Island were also treated to nine graded stakes including five Grade 1 events and 3 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series "Win and You're In" qualifiers. After heavy rain on Friday, conditions were excellent with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 80's, with the main track rated fast and the two turf courses rated good.
Silver State wins the Met Mile
Jockey Joel Rosario sent Knicks Go to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 23.36, 46.31, and 1:10.44 while pressed by Mischevious Alex and stalked by Silver State. Turning for home Knicks Go tired as Silver State took over the lead through 7f in 1:23.04. Kept to task by Ricardo Santana Jr., Silver State held off late-running 9-1 By My Standards to win by a length in 1:35.45. It was 3/4 length back to Mischevious Alex third, and 1 1/2 more to Knicks Go fourth.
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Left: Silver State in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Steve Asmussen said, "This horse takes a step forward with every race. The one thing you really noticed at Oaklawn is every time he went to the wire like he was trying to win. He's a Met Mile winner. We built it up to this point. To be in this position today will give him the credit he deserves. That's the great part about racing. You have to earn it. That's what he did today. The Met Mile was our target since last fall."
Right: Ricardo Santana Jr. celebrates aboard Silver State after winning the MetMile. Santana Jr. said, "He broke really sharp today and put me in a great spot. I was just a passenger today. He put me where he wanted to be. The rail opened, so I decided to go through it and he gave me the victory. Steve's done a good job with him. He gave him time off. He came back fresh last year and he's the best that he's been right now. The good thing about that horse is that he can do whatever you want to. He's really smart. I'm really impressed with him."
Jockey Eric Cancel sent 16-1 Trubhuvan loose on the lead through fractions of 23.81, 46.95, 1:11.00, and 1:35.51 while pressed by 10-1 Channel Cat and stalked by 21-1 City Man. By midstretch Tribuhan continued to lead by 3 lengths but Domestic Spending, 7th early under Flavien Prat, came out 5 wide for room and rallied by to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:59.08. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Gufo third.
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Left: Domestic Spending in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Chad Brown said, "This has been an important race for us. It's such a great tradition, and to be run before the Belmont Stakes every year. It is one of the premier turf races for males at a classic distance in the country and I hold it in high regard. We point for it every year, and I've been so lucky, me and my team, to have some good horses through the years to work with. We had to geld him after his 2-year-old year, even with that breeding, because he wouldn't train. We had several different people on our team working with this horse, down at Stonestreet (in Kentucky) and down in Ocala. So many people have touched this horse and really worked with and got his natural ability out of him. "
Right: Domestic Spending returns after the race. Winning jockey Flavien Prat said, "We had a good trip. He broke well and I got him to relax all the way around there. It was a pretty strong pace. When it was time to make a move, he responded very well. Then, he was floating a little bit down the lane when he was by himself. He ran a good race. He went 1 1/4 well today. He showed a good turn-of-foot last time and today, with the strong pace it's hard to show the same turn of foot and he did. I think I had more in reserve. He was floating a little bit down the lane, but I felt that I had more horse."
A field of 10 older fillies and mares went 1 mile on the Widener turf course in the $500,000 Longines Just a Game Stakes (G1). Allowance winner Pocket Square was senty off as the 5-2 favorite over 7-2 second choice Regal Glory, winner of the Plenty of Grace at Aqueduct, and 7-1 third choice Summer Romance, winner of the Balanchine (G2) at Meydan.
Jockey Luis Saez sent Summer Romance to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 23.43, 46.90, and 1:10.46 while pressed by 8-1 Zofelle and stalked by 15-1 New York Girl. Summer Romance opened a 2 1/2 length lead midstretch but 15-2 fourth choice Althiqa, 8th early under Mike Smith, came through on the inside to win by 3/4 length in 1:33.90. It was another 1 3/4 length back to 12-1 Daddy is a Legend third, while Pocket Square failed to rally and finished 5th beaten 4 3/4 lengths.
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Left: Althiqa in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Charlie Appleby who trained the first two finishers said, "We're obviously delighted with it and we knew we had two competitive fillies. It's one of those days when we prepped well, I was confident they would run a big race and they justified it. They are two fillies who ran well over the winter in Dubai in Group 2s—one won the Balanchine and the other won the Cape Verdi—and they came out there to America and put it to the sword again. It's a great effort by the team there and we might think about leaving them there for Saratoga. Althiqa hit the line strong enough and she wasn't stopping. It was an opportunity to get a Group 1, and luckily we did."
Right: Althiqa returns after the race. Winning jockey Mike Smith said, "We laid midpack. She's got a big heart and she's very, very honest, so she's going to run good. You're just going to have to make a trip when it's time to move on. I was actually going to tip out, but she kind of leaned in like she wanted to drop to the fence, so I just let her. It was a small hole but Charlie told me she had a big heart, and she got on through there. She might suit American racing really well. We might want to keep her here."
The $500,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) featured a field of 5 older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles around 1 turn of the main track, and is a Breeders' Cup Challenge race in the Distaff division. After Swiss Skydiver scratched, Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) winner Letruska was sent off as the 6-5 favorite over 8-5 second choice Shedaresthedevil, winner of the La Troienne (G1), and 5-2 third choice Bonny South, winner of the Doubledogdare (G3).
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Letruska to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 23.49, 46.76, and 1:10.26 while pressed by Shedaresthedevil and stalked by Bonny South. In the stretch Letruska opened up a 5 length lead through 1 mile in 1:34.33, and cruised the rest of the way to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Bonny South in 1:41.25. It was another length back to Shedaresthedevil third.
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Left: Letruska in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Fausto Gutierrez said, "This is a speed horse that can run long distances. Today, she confirmed what we saw in the Apple Blossom. She's progressed with age and taking the blinkers off. She ran like a big horse. When she would run on the lead, she never saw the other horses. She has improved so much more. She has this class to her. She really likes to run. Now we need to focus on the Breeders' Cup with the form that we have. These races are really tough. We'll check how she does. She's a very sound filly and I hope she continues like this."
Rightt: Letruska takes her walk down Victory Lane. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "She was breaking a little bit slow, but she broke good today. I was able to put her on the lead and make the other horses chase me. Florent [Geroux, aboard Shedaresthedevil], if he wanted to beat me, he had to run with me. She couldn't keep up with me by the three-eighths pole. When I looked back and saw her three lengths behind me, I was very happy. It was very impressive. She's a very nice mare."
A field of 7 older horses contested the $400,000 Jackpocket Jaipur Stakes (G1) at 6 furlongs on the inner turf looking for automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Shakertown (G2) winner Bound for Nowhere was sent off as the even-money choice in the field of 9 over 5-1 Gregorian Chant, winner of the San Simeon (G3), and 7-1 Fast Boat, winner of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2).
Jockey Joel Rosario sent Bound for Nowhere to the front and he set fractions of 22.06 and 44.65 while pressed by Gregorian Chant and stalked by 15-2 fourth choice Sombeyay. Bound for Nowhere continued to lead to midstretch through 5f in 56.25 but 11-1 Casa Creed, 8th early under Junior Alvarado, came out 4 wide for room and rallied past to win by 2 lengths over late-running 28-1 Chewing Gum in 1:08.04. It was another 3/4 length back to Bound for Nowhere third.
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Left: Casa Creed in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bill Mott said, "He ran great. It looks like sprints suit him, for sure."
Right: Winning jockey Junior Alvarado celebrates aboard Casa Creed. Alvarado said, "I missed the break a little. I got worried right away because when sprinting the last thing you want to do is break slow. The first 1/16 mile, I was last and he was going so fast. I was thinking that they had to be going pretty quick up front. He started picking it up little by little and still going so fast. As soon as I turned for home and put him in the clear, I asked him a bit and then he pulled the reins out of my hands. It was a beautiful run from the 3/16 to the wire. He's been unlucky with races, but he's always been hard knocking. We started figuring it out these past couple of races. He showed today that he's a serious sprinter."
The $500,000 Acorn Stakes (G1) featured top 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the main track. Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up Search Results was sent off as the 9-10 favorite in the field of 5 over 2-1 second choice Dayoutoftheoffice, second in the Eight Belles (G2), and 9-2 third choice Travel Column, 5th in the Kentucky Oaks.
Jockey John Velazquez sent Dayoutoftheoffice to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 23.50, 47.23, and 1:11.00 while pressed by 21-1 longest shot Make Mischief and stalked by Search Results. Turning for home jockey Javier Castellano sent Search Results 4 wide for room and she swept to the front through 7f in 1:23.04. Kept to task by Castellano, Search Results held off late-running 5-1 Obligatory to win by 1/2 a length in 1:35.50. It was another length back to Make Mischief third.
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Left: Search Results in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Chad Brown said, "I'm just so proud of her to come back in five weeks after a real dog fight with Malathaat. To bounce right back and lay it on the line again, this filly has so much talent and so much heart. She's a very rare kind of horse to have, and we're so lucky to have her."
Right: Search Results takes her walk down Victory Lane. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I was at the right place at the right time. I was very fortunate to [get the mount from injured Irad Ortiz, Jr.]. I'm thankful to Chad Brown for the opportunity to ride this horse; we've had a lot of success in the past. I'm sorry for Irad Ortiz that he got hurt, but it gave me the opportunity to ride. The pace wasn't fast but she was right there. That's the good thing about her. You can put her where you want. You can be a little closer to the pace or you can be a little bit off the pace. I don't think she's a difficult horse to manage. She's very easy and straightforward."
The $400,000 Northwell Health Brooklyn Stakes (G2) featured a field of 9 older horses going the Belmont Stakes trip of 1 1/2 miles on the main track. Tokyo City Stakes (G3) winner Tizamagician was sent off as the 5-2 favorite over 7-2 second choice Lone Rock, winner of the Isaac Murphy Marathon Stakes, and 11-2 third choice Ajaaweed, second in the Flat Out.
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche sent 7-1 Musical Heart to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.91, 47.85, 1:12.65, and 1:38.17 while pressed by Lone Rock and stalked by Tizamagician and 13-2 Ry's the Guy. Musical Heart tired on the far turn as Lone Rock inherited the lead through 10f in 2:04.49. Kept to task by jockey Ramon Vazquez, Lone Rock drew off late to win by 11 1/4 lengths over Tizamagician in 2:28.97. It was another length back to 6-1 fourth choice Moretti third.
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Left: Lone Rock in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Robertino Diodoro said, "He was meant to be a good horse. He's a horse that is just getting better. We just have to keep him healthy and happy as long as we can. He loves his job. When you have a horse trying to run these distances, you need one who loves to train, and he definitely enjoys training."
Right: Lone Rock returns after the race. Winning jockey Ramon Vazquez said, "My horse is a nice horse. When I saw the other horse that has a lot of speed stumble out of the gate, I just put my horse in the best position that I could. I just waited until the end to ask my horse and you can see what happened. It feels awesome."
Kicking off the Saturday stakes action, the $400,000 Nassau County Industrial Development Agency Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) featured 6 three-year-olds sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Pat Day Mile (G2) winner Jackie's Warrior was sent off as the even-money choice over 5-2 Dream Shake, second in the Pat Day Mile, and 6-1 Caddo River, second in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Jockey Joel Rosario sent Jackie's Warrior to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 22.09, 44.19, and 1:08.88 while pressed by Drain the Clock and stalked by Dream Shake. Turning for home jockey Jose Ortiz moved Drain the Clock 7 wide for room and he rallied to get up by a neck in 1:22.27. It was a long 7 1/4 lengths back to 12-1 longest shot Nova Rags third.
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Left: Drain the Clock in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said, "We talked it over so much with [co-owner] Nick Cosato and he wanted to break well and use him for the lead. Jackie's Warrior missed the break and after that he ran up on the inside and we were in a good spot. If we were good enough then we were going to win. At the quarter pole, I thought we were going to be second. It looked like he was backing up a little bit. He dug in after that, and then Jackie's Warrior wouldn't give up. All credit to the horse."
Right: Winning jockey Jose Ortiz celebrates aboard Drain the Clock. Ortiz said, "(The stretch duel) was great. It's great for racing. That's what it's all about, people want to come here to see those kinds of duels. It was a great race, everybody gave their best. I'm just happy we came out with the win and I'm happy filling in for Irad [Ortiz] and not messing it up. He told me the horse was very classy, Saffie was great, and the owner was great, too. The owner was the one that told me if you can outrun him out of the gate and make him go inside, that would be great, to have him inside of us."
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