Black Eyed Susan Day
Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard Red Knight after winning the Man O'War.
There were 3 graded stakes races at Belmont Park on Saturday afternoon. Conditions were typical for mid May on Long Island, with overcast skies and temperatures in the high 70's, with the main track fast and the turf courses firm.
The feature race was the $600,000 Man o'War Stakes (G1), a 1 3/8 mile trip around 2 turns of the inner turf contest for older horses. A field of 8 went to post with Warren Point sent off as the 3-5 favorite off his close second in the His Highness The Amir Trophy (G1) in Qatar. In to challenge him included 5-1 second choice Red Knight, second in the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland, and 7-1 third choice Soldier Rising, unraced since 9th in the Red Smith (G2) at Aqueduct in November.
Down the stretch in the Man o'War
Past winners of the Man O'War Stakes
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Red Knight Ortiz Jr. 12.80 6.20 4.40 6 Soldier Rising Ortiz 8.40 6.30 7 Strong Tide Geroux 12.20 Winning Time: 2:13.74 $1 Exacta 1-6 32.50 $0.50 Trifecta 1-6-7 248.25 $0.10 Superfecta 1-6-7-5 358.45
Left: Red Knight in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mike Maker said, "I was very impressed, as always. He's just a hard-knocking horse who loves his job. He got to the outside, which he prefers. He had a clear view once Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] got him out. A little bit (concerned about the slow pace) but class always prevails. It's too early to say (whether to run in the Manhattan). We wheeled him back a little quicker than we would have liked to today, but it paid off. Having said that, if he tells us he wants to run then we'll be there."
Right: Red Knight leaves the paddock. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, He don't have too much speed early in the race. I let him be happy and find his stride and then after that, he just take me. He started taking me from the 5/8 to the 1/4 pole waiting for the time to go and when I asked him he responded really well. I was hoping he would move a little earlier than usual. He's a big horse and has a huge stride and it was in my mind I wanted to let him go a little earlier, but I was stuck there. I think by the 5/8 pole, [Warren Point] started to pick it up a little bit, so I tried to follow him and my horse was doing it easy so I don't get in his way. By the 1/4 pole, he was already in stride. I just bided my time and tipped him out and he did the rest."
Left: Red Knight returns after the race.
Right: Trophy presentation for the Man o'War Stakes. Winning owner-breeder Tom Egan said, "We've been to Colonial Downs with Red, to Kentucky Downs, Keeneland, Gulfstream Park, back to Keeneland. But here, Belmont Park, seems like home to me. And I know Red has raced here 10 times himself so it's like home to him also. I like New York racing the best. I think the grass course here is very fair. It's not a speedball thing and you don't have to come from 40 lengths out of it. There's a lot of [good] things about New York racing. Whatever Mike says. The Manhattan is obviously a great race. The thing about having a 9-year-old is that he does he need to go to a farm for 2-3 weeks just to clear his head."
Left: Second place finisher Soldier Rising returns after the race. Jockey Jose Ortiz said, "He always breaks kind of slow, so I wanted to hustle him out of the gate today to make sure I was close enough. I knew the pace was going to be slow, so I hustled him out of there. I took position that I was content with on the backside. [Warren Point] was a little rank going into the second turn. I was behind him and just followed him. He looked like he was traveling well around the 3/8 pole. I'm glad we got up for second, the winner was much the best."
Right: Third place finisher Strong Tide in the paddock. Trainer Michael Lauer said, "He ran very well. I thought he was going to hold on for second. Last year he got beat a nose for second in a similar race [Belmont Gold Cup]. When they turned a corner, we were where we wanted to be." Jockey Florent Geroux added, "He tried hard. I got a great setup right off of Channel Maker and he made it very interesting at the end. He was running hard."
Left: Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Warren Point along side eventual winner Red Knight early in the race. Jockey Frankie Dettori said, "He had to leave the hood on [blindfold and blanket] until the end which is no good around here because you give too much ground away. He was too rank and too far back. There was no pace. I made a bit of a move, but he basically ran too fresh."
Right: Warren Point's jockey Frankie Dettori with the Secretariat statue in the paddock.
Arcangelo (outside) wins the Peter Pan Stakes
Jockey Trevor McCarthy sent 33-1 Asmodeus to the lead out of the chute through fraction of 24.52 and 48.83 while pressed by Bishops Bay and stalked by 9-1 Henry Q. On the far turn Bishops Bay moved up to lead through 3/4 but Arcangelo, 6th early under Javier Castellano, came out 4 wide to challenge setting up a duel to the line through 1 mile in 1:37.59. Arcangelo held off favorite Bishops Bay to win by a head in 1:49.71. It was a long 8 3/4 lengths back to Henry Q third.
Past winners of the Peter Pan from NYRA
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Arcangelo in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jena Antonucci said, "The horse is just built different. I know that sounds so cliché, but it's my job – our job – to stay out of his way. Mr. Ebbert has done a great job to give the horse time and let him mature. He's a May foal. We never had a focus on doing early season. We let the horse grow and mature and here we are. There's a conversation (to run in the Belmont). We have no plan yet. Ground has never been a problem, that's why we waited as long as we did."
Right: Arcangelo in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I feel good. I feel like I'm 19-years-old. When you ride that type of horse, you feel good. I said to Jena, this is the type of horse I let him fall out of the gate and let him do what he wants to do. Let him get into a rhythm, get momentum and keep calm. And that's exactly what I did today. I tried to race ride a little bit and intimidate (Florent Geroux aboard Bishops Bay) and put him on top of him. But his horse fought and came back again. My horse, when I asked him, he kicked on and galloped out."
Left: The trophy presentation for the Peter Pan Stakes. Winning owner John Ebbert said, "I've been saying, 'no.' (to offers to sell). There's none left. He's a one-of-a-kind horse and you're not going to get another one. We love the horse. We love his heart. He's all business."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Bishops Bay heads out of the paddock before the race. Jockey Florent Geroux said, "I had a good trip sitting off [Asmodeus]. He made a nice run and down the lane, I just wished he had put his head down and focused a little more on the job in the end. But the winner ran a big number last time at Gulfstream and he was the horse to beat. We had the chance fight him back the [last] quarter of a mile and just couldn't do it. We came to even terms at the end. He's very spotty when he runs. In his two previous starts, [he did] the same thing. He looks like he's got it, but he does not really run away from the other horses."
Left: Third place finisher Henry Q heads returns after the race. The Doug O'Neill trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 0 seconds, and 2 thirds in 6 starts, earning $175,140 for owner The Del Mar Group.
Right: Jockey Frankie Dettori, who rode Henry Q, after the race. Dettori said, "Oh, he ran super. The first two [Arcangelo and Bishops Bay] were just too good for him. He tries and I like the horse. I had a really good spot and I was happy with it."
Candy Man Rocket wins the Runhappy Stakes
Beren was quickest away through an opening quarter of 22.60 before 9-1 longest shot Twisted Ride gained a short lead on the turn through a half in 45.15 while stalked by Candy Man Rocket. Into the stretch, jockey Junior Alvarado sent Candy Man Rocket 3 wide to sweep to the front through 5f in 56.90. Kept to task by Alvarado, Candy Man Rocket drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Twisted Ride in 1:09.33. It was another 1/2 length back to late-running 7-1 Stage Left third, while favorite Beren tired late to finish 5th beaten 3 3/4 lengths.
Past winners of the Runhappy from NYRA
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Candy Man Rocket in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Junior Alvarado said, "To be honest, we weren't expecting him to be nice and relaxed in the saddling area, because last time when they went to saddle him [in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park], we kind of lost him right there in the paddock and post parade. By the time I got on, he was all washed out and very nervous. Then, warming up he never relaxed and I knew he wasn't going to give me his best effort – that's what happened. You've got to draw a line through his last race. Today, he behaved in the post parade and warming up and he was a complete gentleman, nice and relaxed. He came out with a big run today."
Right: Candy Man Rocket heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Bill Mott said, "He wasn't great in saddling today – he was a little wound up. I was a little concerned. Junior said when he got on the track he settled down. At least he showed up. The other day he just spit it out. He can run, he's just got to get the right trip. I think (outside) is the kind of trip he likes. We'll nominate (to the True North Stakes on June 10)."
Left: Second place finisher Twisted Ride heads out of the paddock before the race. Jockey Andy Hernandez said, "He ran great. He didn't win but he finished a great second. It's a difficult race and he ran great. I was behind in the turn and I didn't want to move too soon, but I didn't want to wait too long. [Winner Candy Man Rocket] is a nice horse."
Right: Third place finisher Stage Left returns after the race. He improved his record to 9 wins, 6 seconds, and 5 thirds in 35 starts, earning $526,483 for owner-trainer David Jacobson.
The trophy presentation with trainer Bill Mott and jockey Junior Alvarado. Alvarado added, "It doesn't get old (winning for Bill Mott). It gets more exciting actually and the more you win, the more you want. It's like an addiction. He's been supporting me for many years and I think this year we've been on an unbelievable run. He gives me the best horses in his barn and I can't thank him enough for the support."
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