ELMONT, N.Y. — Trainer Chad Brown saddled the top-two finishers in a graded turf stakes for the second time in as many days, with even-money favorite Homerique out-kicking stablemate Competitionofideas by a neck to win the 76th running of the Grade 2, $600,000 New York for older fillies and mares on June 7 at Belmont Park.
A Brown trainee won for the fourth time through the first seven stakes of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival — which began Thursday, June 6 — with Peter Brant's Homerique staying mid-pack as Lady Montdore led the eight-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 25.24 seconds and Giant Zinger taking over the mantle with the half-mile in 50.45 on the firm inner turf.
Homerique, who bested Competitonofideas by a half-length in her winning North American debut in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 11 at Belmont, set herself up to duplicate the feat when jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. urged her forward entering the final turn.
In the stretch, Homerqiue overtook Giant Zinger, positioned near the rail, from the outside. Competitionofideas, ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, surged from Homerique's outside in the final furlong, but Homerqiue fended off the late charge, completing 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.60.
"The slow pace was a concern, but fortunately someone [Giant Zinger] moved early and the pace picked up a bit," Brown said. "Much like yesterday, it opened up and she was able to get through.
"Homerique saved more ground on the turn and had a shorter distance to the wire, but then again, she had a good amount of energy in reserve," he added. "Both horses ran well."
The 4-year-old Exchange Rate filly and Competitionofideas gave Brown another exacta finish, matching Cambier Parc and Newspaperofrecord's 1-2 finish in Thursday's Grade 3 Wonder Again.
Homerique returned $4 on a $2 win wager, nearly doubling her career earnings to $722,950.
"I had a perfect trip from the outside post," Ortiz, Jr. said. "Even though we don't really like that post we worked it out good. I wasn't so happy with the position I had when we went to the backside, so I made the decision to take a little hold, and drop in, and then get into the pack. She appreciated that. Then she came out of the pack more than in the clear. The fractions were slow, but she handled everything pretty good. She's a very nice horse, a real professional."
Klaravich Stables' Competitonofideas has finished on the board in each of her eight starts since a fourth-place debut in May 2018, finishing 3 1/4 lengths clear of Semper Sententiae for second. The 4-year-old Speightstown filly, who ended her 2018 campaign with a win in the Grade 1 American Oaks, is 2-3-0 in six starts at Belmont.
"Competitionofideas really ran a great race from the back," Brown said. "She was completely out of position early, which is not uncharacteristic for her, given her lack of early speed. She came around horses and did the best she could to come up short to a really good horse They're both nice horses. Unfortunately, one of them had to be the loser after running so well, but we gave them the opportunity to both run well and they both did."
Brown said both horses could possibly run in the Grade 1 Diana on July 13 at Saratoga Race Course or the Grade 1 Beverly D. on Aug. 10 at Arlington Park.
"She missed the break from out of the gate. From there, I had to use my own judgement, but I think it could have cost me the race. We were too far back," said Castellano, who is 2-2-1 in six career starts aboard Competitionofideas. "I wish we could've been closer to the pace. Either way, I got beat by a good horse. We were second-best today."
Earlier in the day, Multiple Grade 1 winner Separationofpowers made short work of her competition in the Grade 3, $250,000 Bed o' Roses Invitational, breaking on top and waltzing home an easy 4 ¾-length winner.
Trained by Brown for Klaravich Stables, Separationofpowers captured the 2017 edition of the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont as a 2-year-old and last year took the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga Race Course. The daughter of Candy Ride finished a disappointing third in her 2019 debut in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap on May 11 at Belmont, but promptly returned to form on Friday.
"She got a lot out of her last race and she really moved forward today," said Brown. "She also took advantage of a nice sharp break. Jose [Ortiz] took control early and I think that proved to be a good decision today."
With Ortiz aboard from outermost post 7, the bay filly shot to the front out of the gate to lead the field through reasonable splits of 22.49 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.04 for the half with longshot Spring in the Wind applying pressure to her outside. Once given her cue leaving the bend, Separationofpowers spurted away from the field and cruised home to complete seven furlongs on the fast main track in 1:21.46.
"She broke really well today," said Ortiz. "Last time she ran, she probably needed that race under her belt to make the difference today. I've ridden her for her entire career. She's a very gutsy filly and she has a lot of heart and that's what we're looking for in fillies."
The win was Separationofpowers' fourth from nine starts, and increased her bankroll to $934,000. She returned $7.80 on a $2 win wager.
The star-crossed Chalon, sent off as the even-money favorite due in large part to her second-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, was forced to play the role of bridesmaid yet again. The Arnaud Delacour trainee entered the race with a string of five consecutive runner-up finishes in graded stakes, which she extended to six with a late run to grab second while never threatening the winner.
After dropping back to last around the turn, Dawn the Destroyer re-rallied to finish third, 1 ½ lengths behind Chalon.
According to Brown, Separationofpowers may attempt to become a Grade 1 winner at 2, 3, and 4, with a possible date in the Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 24 at Saratoga Race Course on the calendar for the talented filly.
European Invader Wins Belmont Gold Cup Invitational
European invader Amade made a wide move down the stretch to get the better of two-time graded stakes winner Arklow and win the Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational by a neck.
The Irish-bred son of Casamento stayed off the pace set by fellow European invader Mootasadir, who set an opening quarter-mile in 25.33 seconds and a half in 52.07 with Raa Atoll sitting a half-length behind him in second. With half of the journey covered in 1:43.66, Amade began inching his way up from seventh, and was tipped out into the four path coming off the far turn. Under strong urging from jockey Flavien Prat, Amade kicked into high gear and stormed down the middle of the course past Canessar, Highland Sky, Red Knight and Arklow to hit the wire in 3:19.95 for two miles over the firm turf course.
Arklow finished second, one length ahead of 28-1 longshot Highland Sky. Completing the order of finish were Cannesar, Red Knight, Raa Atoll, Mootasadir and Noble Thought.
"We had a good trip all the way around there, just cruising, and he gave me a good kick turning for home," Prat said. "He responded well when [Arklow] came down the inside. He ducked out, but it seems like he likes to be on the outside by himself, so I let him do it. [Trainer Alessandro Botti] told me that the two miles wouldn't be a problem and to be patient, and that he would give me a good kick."
Amade was the first North American starter for Botti and became the third European-based horse to win the Gold Cup, the fifth and final stakes on the second day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Botti said he was using the Gold Cup as a prep for the Melbourne Cup in November at Flemington in Australia.
Grade 2, $250,000 True North
Catalina Cruiser made a triumphant return to the races with a stirring stretch run to win the Grade 2, $250,000 True North, one of five stakes races on the second day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Sent off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of eight 4-year-olds and up, Catalina Cruiser broke near the back of the pack and settled into third place with Strike Power leading and Recruiting Ready in hot pursuit.
As the two dueled for the lead into the stretch, Catalina Cruiser, under Joel Rosario, closed with a flourish and won by a half-length over Strike Power, with Recruiting Ready a nose back in third.
Hronis Racing's Catalina Cruiser, a 5-year-old son of Union Rags, was making his first start of the year following an impressive 4-year-old season in which he won three in row, including a pair of Grade 2 wins at Del Mar, and then finished a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.
Favored Fore Left Wins 122nd Running Of The $150,000 Tremont
Favored Fore Left made short work of his six rivals, popping out of the gate on top and never looking back as he romped to a 4 1/2-length victory on the 122nd running of the $150,000 Tremont for 2-year-olds.
With Mario Gutierrez aboard, the Doug O'Neill-trained Fore Left zipped through an opening first quarter in 22.58 seconds, with the half going in 45.77 as Federale and Rookie Salsa gave chase. Straightening for home, Fore Left easily shook clear of those rivals and was never threatened as he hit the wire in 1:04.44 for the 5 ½ furlongs.
"He broke well and did it pretty easy," said Gutierrez. "He was sharp out of the gate and found the lead and was in really good contention. In the stretch, I just had to be a little firm. But he did it easy. He's composed. He seems promising, so hopefully, he keeps going the same way."
The New York-bred Theitalianamerican, last early, closed down the middle of the stretch to finish second, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Kentucky Juvenile winner Rookie Salsa.
"He's a nice horse, he does it all," said Gary Contessa, who trains the runner-up."From the day I bought him in March, his brain is just better than anyone else's [in the barn]. He's an incredible horse. Wait until he stretches out against New York-breds."
The victory was the second in as many starts for Fore Left, who was purchased for $97,000 by Reddam Racing at the Keeneland September yearling sale. The son of Twirling Candy, who broke his maiden in front-running fashion on May 19 at Santa Anita Park, added $87,000 to his bankroll with the win and has now earned $126,000.
He returned $5.30 for a $2 win wager.
Owner J. Paul Reddam said he has high hopes for the bay colt.
"When he broke on top, I thought he'd be tough. We hope that he can run a mile and quarter going forward, but you never know. We had Nyquist, who broke his maiden going five [furlongs], and everyone said that horse can't go two turns or he can't go a mile and an eighth. He [Fore Left] has the pedigree to go a mile and a quarter. Usually, with earlier speed you don't see that, but we hope he's the exception.
"We'll bring him back to California and decide where we'll go from there. It kind of depends on how the rest of the stable is doing also, but we would love to come back at Saratoga."
Belmont Stakes Racing Festival concludes Saturday, une 8 with an unprecedented eight Grade 1 events, capped by the 151st running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
See more Equestrian news at www.TAPintoHorses.net
See equestrian events at https://www.tapinto.net/sections/horses/events
Contact TAPinto Horses at email@example.com
Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TAPintoHorses/
Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox.