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Jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard Sheepshead Bay Handicap winner Treat Gently.
The feature race at Belmont Park on Saturday was the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2). A field of 7 older fillies and mares went 1 3/8 miles over the inner turf course on a cloudy warm day before just 6,403 customers at the Elmont oval. The Gaillimh Girl was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in just her fourth lifetime start, exiting wins in the Prix D'Annel at Compeigne last September followed by an allowance race at Keeneland in April. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Bubbly Jane, third in the Long Island Handicap last out at Aqueduct, and 4-1 third choice Treat Gently exiting a sixth place finish in the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and winless since last July.
Down the stretch with Treat Gently out front
Jockey Jon Court sent 8-1 Pari to the front first time past the stands and she was allowed an uncontested lead of as many as 2 1/2 lengths through slow fractions of 24.52, 49.45, 1:13.98, and 1:38.41 over the firm course. Treat Gently sat in second, in turn 2 lengths in front of the rest of the field. Turning for home, Pari tired badly and faded to eventually finish last, allowing Treat Gently to inherit the lead at the 1/4 pole. Treat Gently drew off through the stretch, opening up a 3 length advantage at the 1/8 pole through 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.20. 9-2 fourth choice Nehantic Cat, last early, came out for room and passed the rest of the field but was no challenge to Treat Gently who finished under wraps 4 1/2 lengths in front in 2:14.09. It was just a nose back to Bubbly Jane third, while favorite The Gaillimh Girl was fourth.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Treat Gently Desormeaux 10.40 5.90 3.70 5 Nehantic Kat Dominguez 5.10 3.20 6 Bubbly Jane Maragh 2.90 Winning Time: 2:14.09 $2 Exacta 2-5 52.00 $2 Trifecta 2-5-6 155.00 $2 Superfecta 3-5-6-7 412.00
Left: Treat Gently in the winner's circle with trainer Bill Mott on the left. Mott said, "She's a quality filly and we just had to get everything right. We tried her at 1 1/16 (in the Jenny Wiley) last time, that was my mistake. I thought she would be able to handle that trip, and it wasn't meant to be, so we put her back at a distance more appropriate for her. In the race, she was kind, she settled nicely for Kent, and consequently finished very well. We'll keep her up here, and look at the New York Stakes (G2)."
Right: Treat Gently returns after the race. Her jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "Maybe she just didn't have her day at Keeneland. She's had success at Belmont - maybe she likes it here. All together, she was super today. Mr. Mott had her blowing fire. My trip was perfect. Could you draw one up like that every day for me? That'd be fine."
Left: Treat Gently heads back to the barn after the race.
Right: Second place finisher Nehantic Kat returns after the race. The 9-2 fourth choice raced in last 7 lengths off the pace for the first mile under new jockey Ramon Dominguez, came out wide into the lane and closed well to get second beaten 4 1/2 lengths. The Barclay Tagg trainee improved her record to 6 wins, 4 seconds, and 5 thirds in 21 starts, earning $391,481 for owner Statehouse Stable.
Left: Third place finisher Bubbly Jane in the paddock before the race. The 5-2 second choice raced in fifth 6 lengths off the pace for the first mile under jockey Rajiv Maragh after brushing the right side of her stall out of the starting gate, then closed late but was nosed out for second, finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner. The Paulo Lobo trainee improved her record to 6 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 11 starts, earning $188,327 for owner-breeder Haras Interlagos Ltd.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite The Gaillimh Girl returns after the race. The 2-1 favorite tracked the pace in third 4 lengths off the pace under new jockey Javier Castellano, came through between horses at the top of the lane to get to second in mid-stretch, but was outkicked in the final furlong, finishing fourth beaten 7 lengths. The Christophe Clement trainee has a record of 2 wins, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $45,595 for owner Amanda Pope.
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