Jersey Town Goes To Town In Kelso
By Jenny Kellner | 09/29/2012 06:04 PM ET
Jersey Town picked the right time to snap a nearly two-year losing streak, earning a trip to the Breeders’ Cup with a come-from-behind, 3 ½-length upset of the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Handicap on Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park.
Winless in seven starts since taking the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap in November, 2010, the 6-year-old Jersey Town bided his time behind Shackleford as the dual Grade 1 winner was prompted through opening fractions of 22.54 and 45.02 by Trickmeister. Splitting rivals heading into the stretch, Jersey Town took command at the top of the lane and was never threatened as he hit the wire well clear of Shackleford, Trickmeister and even-money favorite To Honor and Serve.
He completed the “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, to be run on November 3 at Santa Anita Park, in 1:35.24.
“He just needed to have a couple of races in a row before this one,” said winning trainer Barclay Tagg, who had saddled Jersey Town to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Forego on September 1 at Saratoga Race Course prior to the Kelso. “I thought he needs that kind of thing. He’s a real hefty horse. He needs to train hard, but he really doesn’t have the legs and feet to train hard on. You have to hit a happy medium, and things were just coming together real nicely for him this fall, so we took a shot at it.”
Owned by Charles Fipke, Jersey Town is now 6-8-3 from 20 career starts, with earnings of $789,668. He returned $18 for a $2 win bet.
“Turning for home, the horses got tired; they started backing up a little bit,” said winning jockey Javier Castellano. “My horse is a really nice horse to ride. He split horses and took off, and I’m very satisfied with the way he did it.”
Shackleford, who won the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in May at Belmont, was three-quarters of a length in front of Trickmeister.
“I’ve seen him go faster and keep going,” said trainer Dale Romans of the 2011 Preakness winner. “It was a little different track today; I told Ramon [Dominguez] to take the race to them and make them pass us. Trickmeister is a fast horse, he was running with us and we were going too fast up front. Jersey Town just ran a big race today. I’d like to have gotten the trophy, but it puts us in a good position going to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott offered no excuses for To Honor and Serve, who was 4 ½ lengths back in fourth.
“He was dull, a little dull,” said Mott. “He didn’t break; Johnny [Velazquez] just said he was a little flat. He didn’t put in any kind of effort. I understood the risk in running him today, but I wanted to run him because I felt it was my best shot five weeks from now in the Breeders’ Cup. Whether that turns out to be the case or not, I’ll have to answer that question myself in five weeks, but I just thought running him today was the best thing for me to get him to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
Completing the order of finish were Golddigger’s Boy and Tapizar. Gallant Fields, Isn’t He Perfect, and Pacific Ocean were scratched.