By Jon Forbes | 08/04/2012 04:12 PM ET
It was only a matter of minutes after Fortify had broken his maiden on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course that his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, stamped him as a contender for the Grade 2, $300,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful, the featured race on closing day.
Making his debut in Saturday’s third race, Fortify led exiting the chute in the 6 ½-furlong race before yielding the top spot to Boss Man Rocket. Fortify remained off the flank of the pacesetter through an opening quarter mile in 21.73 seconds, regained the top spot with three eighths to travel, led through a half in 44.43, and slipped clear when set down by Joe Bravo en route to a 5 ½-length victory.
The final time for 6 ½ furlongs was 1:16.34, with Fortify paying $10.40 for a $2 wager as the 4-1 fourth choice. With the win, the 2-year-old son of Distorted Humor becomes the fourth juvenile and first colt from the 2012 Saratoga meet to join the New York Watch, which profiles promising maiden winners on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit.
“He has trained very well and we were looking for a very good performance out of him, but that was pretty special,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “The fractions were very fast. He was laying second, just off them. He acted up a little bit in the gate – we’ll have to work on that – but we were just happy to see him run so well.”
Fortify, a Darley Stable homebred, is out of Kotuku, a placed daughter of Flagbird, who was awarded highweight honors in England, Ireland, and Italy, with her top win coming in the Group 1 Premio Presidente Della Repubblica in Italy. Flagbird produced three stakes-placed runners, including Dubai Belle, herself the dam of Grade 1 Ashland winner Little Belle. Little Belle, like Kotuku, is by A.P. Indy. Fortify also hails from the family of Grade 1 Ashland and Grade 1 Acorn heroine Prospectors Delite.
The seven-furlong Three Chimneys Hopeful will be contested on Labor Day, September 3.