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Jockey Javier Castellano celebrates aboard Cavorting after the 2016 Ruffian
There were 4 graded stakes races at Belmont Park on Sunday afternoon. The main track was fast and turf courses firm, with overcast skies and temperatures in the mid 60's at the historic Long Island oval. Kicking off the stakes quartet on Saturday was the $250,000 Ruffian Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 mile around one turn of the main track. A field of 6 went to post, with Carrumba sent off as the even-money favorite, winner of the Top Flight Handicap (G3) after finishing a close second in the Comely (G3) both at Aqueduct. In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice Cavorting, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) before third in the La Brea (G1) and second in the Distaff Handicap (G3), and 4-1 third choice Spelling Again, seventh in the Madison (G1) last out.
Down the stretch in the Ruffian
Jockey John Velazquez sent 12-1 Calamity Kate to the lead down the backstretch and shet set fractions of 23.75 and 47.05 while pressed by Carrumba and stalked by Spelling Again. Entering the stretch, Cavorting, fourth early, came out 4 wide for room to sweep to the front through 3/4 in 1:10.60. Kept to task by jockey Javier Castellano she drew off late to win by 5 lengths over Carrumba in 1:34.05. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Spelling Again third.
Past winners of the Ruffian from NYRA
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Cavorting Castellano 7.80 3.30 2.50 6 Carrumba Ortiz 2.60 2.10 3 Spelling Again Saez 2.80 Winning Time: 1:34.05 $2 Exacta 1-6 18.60 $2 Trifecta 1-6-3 68.50 $2 Superfecta 1-6-3-4 185.50
Left: Cavorting in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I never rode the filly before and I've been studying a lot all week since the overnights came out. We drew the inside post, which was perfect for her to settle and make one run. She doesn't want to be close to the pace because the question was how far she can go, but the way she did it today was phenomenal. Her stretch run was phenomenal.Those kinds of horses you look for all year round and you don't find many special like her. The way she did it today was amazing. We saved some ground and saved something for the end and she exploded."
Right: Cavorting heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "Winning that way, it looks like she'll be able to get a mile or plus. There's (Ogden Phipps Stakes) on Belmont Stakes Day we might try. The key was sitting back and able to make a run, which she did. Her start in California (La Brea) I was a little disappointed in, and in her last race (Distaff Handicap) a very fast filly beat us and we had kind of a funny trip. This was a big race. It gives us more confidence now."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Carrumba returns after the race. The even-money choice pressed the pace under Jose Ortiz but could not improve, finishing second beaten 5 lengths. The Shug McGaughey trainee improved her record to 4 wins and 4 seconds in 8 starts, earning $407,600 for owner-breeder Phipps Stable.
Right: Third place finisher Spelling Again in the post parade. The 4-1 third choice tracked the pace in third under Luis Saez but could not improve late finishing third beaten 7 1/4 lengths. The Brad Cox trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 4 thirds in 18 starts, earning $357,426 for owner Seajay Racing LLC.
Unified leads down the stretch in the Peter Pan Stakes
Jockey Manuel Franco sent 70-1 Singleton to the lead exiting the chute and he set fractions of 23.32 and 46.38 while pressed by 102-1 longest shot Supah Czech and favorite Unified. On the turn Unified came out 4 wide to gain a short lead through 3/4 in 1:10.25. Entering the stretch, Unified opened up by 3 lengths through 1 mile in 1:34.46. 12-1 Governor Malibu, 7th early, put in a strong late rally by Unified easily held him off by 3/4 length in 1:47.14. It was a long 2 1/2 lengths back to Wild About Deb third.
Past winners of the Peter Pan from NYRA
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Unified Ortiz Jr. 11.40 5.50 2.80 5 Governor Malibu Rosario 6.90 2.90 6 Wild About Deb McCarthy 2.20 Winning Time: 1:47.14 $2 Exacta 7-5 19.00 $2 Trifecta 7-5-6 70.50 $2 Superfecta 7-5-6-3 174.00
Left: Unified in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens said, "We trained him hard for this race, and he took it like a man. He didn't miss an oat. He actually looks like he's carrying more flesh than he did when he ran the last time. Only the good ones do that. I don't know about the Belmont. There would have to be a lot of horses going by the wayside for that to happen. But you'd be an idiot nowadays to rule anything out, because things change overnight. It's improbable, but not impossible."
Right: Unified in the paddock before the race. Don Little, managing partner of owner Centennial Farms said, "After the Bay Shore, we weren't really sure where we were going and Dr. (Steve) Carr and Jimmy talked about it and felt that if we were going to try it, now was the time to do it. It's another step accomplished. Jose said he didn't want the horse in front of him to get away so he said he may have used him a little bit too soon but the way he got away from them at the stretch, you could see he was getting a little tired at the end. Everything is very open. But he's a talented horse, he always tries. I think he's got the competitive spriit you want to see."
Left: Second place finisher Governor Malibu returns after the race. Trainer Christophe Clement said, "Everything is wide open but I'm very happy. I would have loved to win the race but that's just how it goes. He's a stayer for sure, he's always showed us that he was going to stay. The two factors we know is that he has some ability and he wants to go long. Now people might stop saying that he's a New York-bred and instead say that he's a nice New York-bred."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Wild About Deb in the post parade. The 5-1 second choice raced 6th early under Trevor McCarthy and rallied well to get third beaten 3 1/4 lengths. The Phil D'Amato trainee improved his record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 3 starts, earning $64,000 for owner Marisa Lizza.
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