Pico Central with owner Gary Tanaka in the winner's circle after the Vosburgh.
The $490,000 Vosburgh Stakes was shortened this year to 6 furlongs to accommodate the Breeders' Cup Sprint. A compact field of just five horses (after Eavesdropper scratched) went to post, but the race was definitely a classy affair with such dominating sprinters as 4-5 local favorite Speightstown taking on 2-1 second choice Pico Central shipping in from California. Relegated to third favoritism was another top sprinter, Cajun Beat, who hasn't raced since the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March.
The race was a dogfight from the onset, as the three favorites battled down the backstretch and around Belmont's wide turn. Cajun Beat saved ground on the rail, Speightstown held a short lead between horses while Pico Central took the wide path around, as they went the first quarter in a brisk 22.61. At the top of the lane, 23-1 longshot Voodoo who had stalked the pace just in behind the favorites, came four wide and looked strong through the lane, as Cajun Beat began to weaken, succumbing to his lack of conditioning all year. Victor Espinoza asked Pico Central for his best and got it, as the Brazilian-bred powered way to win by 4 lengths over Voodoo, in a time of 1:09.74 over the track listed as fast. It was just 1/2 a length back to the tiring Speightstown in third.
Purse: $500,000 Distance: 6 furlongs
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Pico Central Espinoza 6.40 5.00 2.10 4 Voodoo Chavez 13.20 2.10 2 Speightstown Velazquez 2.10
Pico Central shows off in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Paulo Lobo said, "I was concerned about him coming into the race, because he didn't run that well at Del Mar. Today, he proved to be a great horse in my eyes. He was perfect -- and he ran like hell.. As for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, we will decide about that next week. He'll go back to California on Tuesday and we'll see how he does then. He doesn't have to run in the Breeders' Cup to become sprint champion. We beat Speightstown and Cajun Beat here and won three Grade 1 races. If anything, we'll look at the Cigar Mile (November 27th)."
Winning jockey Victor Espinoza added, "He's a very nice horse. He was very sharp out of the gate, and we didn't have to do too much with him. By the three-eighths pole, he was dragging me, just cruising. But I knew I had to wait, and at the eighth-pole is when I told him to go. I wasn't worried too much about (Speightstown) When he got to the 3/8 pole, I saw that he was in a little bit of trouble. I said, 'I got this one.'"
Second place finisher Voodoo in the post parade. His jockey Jorge Chavez said, "I'm happy with how he ran. I knew there was a lot of speed in the race. So, I tried to conserve a little for the end. And at the end, my horse was coming. But the winner was just too much today. At 23-1, my horse ran huge." Trainer Jimmy Jerkens did not see the race but by phone said, "I don't think we'll consider the Breeders' Cup. We'll probably defend our title in the Sport Page (Grade 3, October 31st)."
Third place finisher and beaten favorite Speightstown returns after the race. His trainer Todd Pletcher said, "He stumbled a little coming away from there. It looked like he recovered and got himself into a decent position after that. I was a little surprised at the time. It was significantly slower than what these horses usually run. I wonder how lively the track was. Pico Central got the trip we expected he would get. We didn't quite punch with him down the lane. I don't think he ran his A-race today, but assuming he comes back okay, we'll talk at Lone Star."
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