Segesta gives Brown sixth G2 Wonder Again victory
Stakes Recap
May 27, 2024
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Segesta gives Brown sixth G2 Wonder Again victory

by Mary Eddy



Juddmonte’s Kentucky homebred Segesta gave four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown a record-extending sixth victory in Monday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Wonder Again, a nine-furlong outer turf test for sophomore fillies, at Belmont at the Big A.

The first three finishers of the Wonder Again received an automatic invite to the Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks, a 1 3/16-mile turf test for sophomore fillies on July 6 here.

Segesta adds her name to the list of Brown-trained Wonder Again winners that includes Lady Eli [2015], New Money Honey [2017], Cambier Parc [2019], Consumer Spending [2022] and Prerequisite [2023], giving Brown his third consecutive score in this event.

Ridden to victory from the inside post by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Segesta broke sharply and settled on the front end as Curlin’s Girl challenged for the lead past the wire for the first time, and assumed command in the first turn to mark an opening quarter-mile in 22.91 seconds over the firm footing.

Ortiz, Jr. held his charge patiently in second as post-time favorite Sweet Rebecca inched closer to the lead in the three-path, with Vive Veuve keeping watch in fourth through the half-mile in 46.91. Approaching the final turn, Tyler Gaffalione asked Sweet Rebecca to challenge Curlin’s Girl for the lead as Ortiz, Jr. took Segesta one path off the rail to bravely split her frontrunning rivals and come into contention at the top of the stretch.

The Brown-trained Grayosh was full of run along the inside, but could not find a seam as a game Curlin’s Girl turned back the prolonged bid of Sweet Rebecca and Vive Veuve unleashed her late turn of foot down the center of the course. Segesta edged clear of Curlin’s Girl inside the final eighth of a mile and was left to deal with Vive Veuve and a last-minute bid from the rallying Sy B to her inside, but Ortiz, Jr. needed only to show a right-handed crop to Segesta for her to keep on strong to the wire and score by a half-length over Sy B in a final time of 1:48.24.

Vive Veuve finished third another half-length back with Grayosh rounding out the superfecta. The Brown-trained Sweet Rebecca, who took an awkward step around the five-sixteenths marker, and Curlin’s Girl completed the order of finish. Main track-only entrants Six Pack Senorita and Golden Degree were scratched.

Brown said he was pleased with the trip engineered by Ortiz, Jr.

"The pace was going a little faster than it looked on paper and Irad made the good decision to take her back and that was it,” said Brown. “She got a good trip.”

Ortiz, Jr., who was aboard Segesta for her prominent last-out maiden win at Keeneland, said he was prepared to relinquish the lead if needed.

"My plan was to be on the lead, but if somebody wanted it so bad, then I can sit second maybe or probably take a hold and relax my filly, and then I cover up,” said Ortiz, Jr. “But on paper to me, I don't see too much speed in the race. My filly was in 46, about two lengths [off-the-pace] at Keeneland and she was keen that day, so that is what I told to Chad and he allowed me to, he was agreeing with me, but said if somebody breaks running and somebody wants the lead then, we go to Plan B.”

Segesta is out of the dual group/graded stakes-winning Brown trainee Antonoe, who won the 2017 Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont Park.

"She looks a lot like her mom and I'm always happy to train some of the family that I've trained,” said Brown. “Antonoe was a really good filly for us and we quite liked her at the barn.”

The daughter of Ghostzapper added to her third-out graduation on April 21 at Keeneland traveling one mile over firm turf. For her Wonder Again score, she banked $110,000 while returning $10 on a $2 win ticket.

Brown added it is likely Segesta will target the Belmont Oaks next.

“I think she'll continue to stretch out effectively,” said Brown.

Brown expressed his concern for his beaten favorite and last-out Memories of Silver-winner Sweet Rebecca after her misstep in the latter stages of the race.

"Sweet Rebecca took a really bad step around the five-sixteenths pole and I'm hoping she's OK,” said Brown. “She was looking like she would be a real threat. She put in a great performance and turning for home she completely lost her action on the turn. I'm hopeful she comes out of the race OK. Tyler said after she took that step, she did not feel the same down the stretch, so fingers crossed she didn't get injured.”

Live racing will resume on Thursday, June 6 at Saratoga Race Course for the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which runs through Sunday, June 9 and is highlighted by the 156th edition of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday, June 8. The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will include 24 stakes races with purses totaling $10.25 million.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.


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