G1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets winner Essential Quality has eyes on G1 Runhappy Travers
by NYRA Press Office
- · G1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets winner Essential Quality has eyes on G1 Runhappy Travers
- · Letruska garners career-best 103 BSF in G1 Ogden Phipps score
- · G1 Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan winner Silver State has options
- · Domestic Spending, Search Results provide Grade 1 wins for Brown
- · Hot Rod Charlie firing on all cylinders after runner-up effort in G1 Belmont Stakes
- · Casa Creed and Chewing Gum comprise Mott-trained exacta in G1 Jackpocket Jaipur
- · Joseph, Jr. targets G1 glory at Saratoga with Drain the Clock, Mischevious Alex
- · Godolphin starlets run one-two in G1 Longines Just a Game
- · Lone Rock’s solid effort in G2 Brooklyn win extends success going 1 1/2 miles
- · Kendrick Carmouche to have surgery; expected to miss 8-10 weeks
Trainer Brad Cox provided a positive report on Godolphin’s newly minted American classic winner Essential Quality, who gave the prestigious racing and breeding operation their first triumph in a Triple Crown race in a memorable edition of Saturday's Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
The reigning Champion 2-Year-Old tracked swift fractions produced by Hot Rod Charlie, and dueled with the pacesetter in a dramatic battle down the stretch, getting the better of his foe by 1 ¼ lengths and produced a career-best 109 Beyer Speed Figure. The result replicated the one-two finish of last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.
“He looks amazing. It doesn’t look like he lost any weight. We jogged him up this morning and he was moving great,” Cox said Sunday. “He’s a very intelligent horse. It’s amazing to watch him. We train him on race day and whenever we put him back in, he’ll lay down the rest of the day. He knows what’s going on and he deserves a good rest today after such a long race yesterday.”
In capturing the “Test of the Champion,” Essential Quality gave his prolific sire Tapit his fourth progeny to conquer the final leg of the Triple Crown joining Tonalist , Creator  and Tapwrit .
With the Belmont Stakes in the rearview mirror, Cox said the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 28 at Saratoga Race Course is the next major objective for Essential Quality. He did not rule out giving the talented gray colt a start beforehand in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 31 at Saratoga Race Course.
“It’s one of the more prestigious races out there for three-year-old colts. So that would be the logical spot,” Cox said of a possible start in the “Mid-Summer Derby.” “It’s a mile and a quarter and we know he can handle that. In regard to a race before, it would be nice. Saratoga is obviously a demanding track. I wouldn’t say we have to have a race before that, but it would be nice. I think the logical spot would be the Jim Dandy, but we’ll get him back to Churchill and let him tell us over the next couple of weeks how he’s feeling.”
The Belmont Stakes was the third time Essential Quality faced off against Hot Rod Charlie. Prior to Saturday’s race, they ran a respective fourth and third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1.
“I think it would be great for racing, no doubt about it.” Cox said of a potential rivalry between the Belmont top two finishers.
A Kentucky homebred, Essential Quality is out of the multiple stakes-placed Elusive Quality mare Delightful Quality. She has an unraced Uncle Mo 2-year-old filly named Famed, who also is trained by Cox.
“She’s a nice filly,” Cox said. “She shows some gate speed and is a pretty quick learner. Elegant filly with plenty of leg. We’ve had her for about a month and she’s had some three-eighths works under her belt. No rush with her.”
Essential Quality is scheduled to ship back to Cox’s primary division at Churchill Downs on Monday.
Letruska garners career-best 103 BSF in G1 Ogden Phipps score
St. George Stable’s Letruska registered a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure with a powerful front-running 2 3/4-length score in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps, a 1 1/16-mile test for older fillies and mares at Belmont.
Trained by Fausto Gutierrez and piloted by Jose Ortiz, who picked up the mount from his injured brother Irad Ortiz, Jr., the 5-year-old Super Saver mare made the lead and put away the 2020 Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, before outkicking Bonny South.
An undefeated champion in Mexico, Letruska captured the Grade 3 Shuvee at Saratoga last summer, and has reached new heights in her last five starts since removing blinkers to win the Grade 3 Rampart in December at Gulfstream Park.
The talented bay followed with a win in the Grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic in January at Sam Houston; a close second to Shedaresthedevil in the Grade 2 Azeri in March at Oaklawn; and bested both the reigning champion Older Female Monomoy Girl and champion 3-Year-Old Filly Swiss Skydiver in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in April at Oaklawn.
“She has improved her Beyer in her last five races - 95, 97, 99, 102 and now 103. She has quality,” said Gutierrez. “This is the power that she has in the races that she has run. She's won five group [graded] races in the United States and it's not easy.”
Through 19 starts, the win-happy Letruska has posted a record of 14-1-1 with purse earnings in excess of $1.4 million
Gutierrez said he is impressed with the way Letruska carries herself while racing against the top fillies and mares in the country.
“She's a horse with natural talent,” Gutierrez said. “She has speed to make her different from the others and be very special in top races. She's run with Shedaresthedevil, ‘Monomoy’, Swiss Skydiver and she makes it look easy. She's a natural runner.”
Gutierrez said the year-end goal for Letruska is the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 6 at Del Mar, but how the mare gets to that race remains up in the air with the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign on August 28 at Saratoga a possibility.
“Saratoga is one of the natural places to go for prestigious races. We had a very nice experience there last year,” said Gutierrez. “At the same time, we need to put the focus on the Breeders' Cup. To be the number one of the division, we have to be careful planning out her races, but Saratoga could be one of the points along the way.”
No matter which route Gutierrez decides, he said Letruska is already champing at the bit for her next challenge.
“She has come out of the race in great form. She's happy and jumping. It's one of her characteristics after she races,” Gutierrez said.
G1 Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan winner Silver State has options
After running his win streak to six with a conquest of the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap, Silver State has plenty of options on the table said co-owner Ron Winchell’s racing and bloodstock advisor David Fiske.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the son of Hard Spun carried five straight triumphs into the prestigious one-turn mile event, including three stakes wins at Oaklawn Park. He made his seasonal bow with a narrow victory in the Fifth Season on January 23 going a two-turn mile before notching wins in the Essex on March 13 and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 17.
Silver State began his six-race tear off a seven-month layoff when defeating winners going seven furlongs on October 22 at Keeneland. He produced a career-best 101 Beyer when travelling the same distance next out at Churchill Downs.
Given Silver State’s versatility, Fiske said he is still determining a target for the 4-year-old bay colt, who earned an automatic entry into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in capturing the Met Mile.
“He’s in that spot where we could stretch him out again, or we could shorten him up,” Fiske said. “He seems to be effective at seven [furlongs], a mile, a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and an eighth, He can go just about anywhere. We’ll probably talk about whether we want to go in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and keep him at a middle distance or if we want to stretch him out again.”
Campaigned on the Fair Grounds division of the Kentucky Derby trail last year, Silver State was put on the shelf following a distant seventh in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Fiske said his mental maturity has been highly instrumental.
“He’s always had a lot of talent and we always thought a lot of him,” Fiske said. “We had him on the Triple Crown trail last year and maybe he was a little immature for that. We did some body work on him and sent him to the sidelines after the Louisiana Derby. With the pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty as to when. We brought him back in the fall. He was a bigger, stronger version of himself.
“He’s always been a large extremely good looking horse," he added. "He probably would have gotten good sooner with a more consistent pattern of racing. He may have been victimized by the pandemic a bit.”
Additionally, Fiske expressed delight in seeing Tapit, who was campaigned by Winchell, sire a fourth Belmont Stakes winner. The influential stallion put himself on even terms with Lexington, who sired General Duke , Kingfisher , Harry Basset  and Duke of Magenta .
“Ron and I joke that he hasn’t gotten a Derby win because it’s too short,” Fiske quipped. “No one has done that in the modern era. We were hoping he would get a Derby winner this year, if not for a slightly troubled trip for Essential Quality.”
Domestic Spending, Search Results provide Grade 1 wins for Brown
Trainer Chad Brown said he was pleased on Sunday morning with the efforts of his Belmont Stakes Day card horses, with highlights being a one-two finish in the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan;, a victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Acorn; and successfully debuting a promising 3-year-old earlier in the day in maiden company. All three winners were owned by longtime client Klaravich Stables.
Domestic Spending continued his lavish ascent in the Manhattan, closing to win his sixth race from seven starts and stay perfect on the year, following a dead-heat win in the Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic on May 1. The gelding is the latest in a line of top-class sons of Kingman—also the sire of Europe’s top miler Palace Pier—to scorch the turf recently and is destined for a similar path to 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar, who won the Turf Classic and Manhattan before taking the 10-furlong Arlington Million and 12-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf—both Grade 1s.
“If you had asked me this time of year about Bricks and Mortar [pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Turf], I would have said ‘no’ and that’s why I was considering the [Breeders’ Cup] Mile for that horse for a while, thinking he’s not going to be a three-turn horse,” Brown explained. “These horses, as they get older and get some seasoning under them, you’re starting to see them have more range. Anything is possible, let’s see, but his next start—all going well—is at Arlington.”
Left in Domestic Spending’s deficit was pace-setting Brown pupil Tribhuvan, who backed up his victory in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy on May 1 with an admirable runner-up effort.
“He surprised me in the Fort Marcy, but he didn’t surprise me yesterday,” Brown explained. “That horse has been a different horse since we gelded him and the more I looked at his Fort Marcy, the more I started to believe it. That’s why we chose as a team - me and [owners Wonder Stables, Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso] - to give it a shot in the Manhattan instead of running at Monmouth yesterday. Fortunately we did because I thought he ran great.
“They both ran their hearts out and gave two great performances.”
Search Results won her fourth race from five starts in Saturday’s Acorn, stalking and pouncing with aplomb under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who was substituting for injured Irad Ortiz, Jr. The daughter of Flatter landed her first Grade 1 after coming up a neck short in last month’s Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks to divisional leader Malathaat.
“I really wanted to try to do that and give myself a little breathing room with her between now and Saratoga,” said Brown. “We have a decision to make there on whether or not we’re going to bring her back in the Coaching Club, which was my original plan, or if I think she needs more time for any reason, we can always train her her up to a race like the [Grade 1, $500,000 Longines] Test (on August 7). I couldn’t see myself running her past a mile and an eighth.”
Earlier in the day, Brown unveiled Klaravich Stables’ Soft Power, a sophomore son of Kingman’s sire Invincible Spirit, who overcame a bit of traffic to get up in the final jump over seven grassy furlongs. The bay colt was a $256,604 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale 2019 purchase and is out of a half-sister to G1 Dubai Duty Free winner Cityscape and world-class sprinter Bated Breath.
“He ran super and we really liked that horse last year, but unfortunately he got hurt during the summer, so we had to rest him,” Brown said. “He trained well and ran a big race, so I’m really excited about his future. I’d love to get him into a mile ‘1-X’ allowance and then go him up to a stakes in a perfect world. I’m going to have to look around. If I don’t get that, I might have to put him in a stakes.”
Hot Rod Charlie firing on all cylinders after runner-up effort in G1 Belmont Stakes
Even though he set the blistering pace in Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and got into a heavyweight battle with Essential Quality down the lane before losing the 1 ½ mile “Test of the Champion” to that one by only 1 ½ lengths, Hot Rod Charlie was full of energy and enthusiasm the morning after.
“He looks awesome, just awesome,” said trainer Doug O’Neill before jetting back to his Southern California base. “He ate up everything and licked his feed tub. We scoped him after the race, and he scoped clean. He was definitely a little rubber-legged after the race, but by the time he got back to the barn area he had already recovered. He recovered quickly. He’s amazing.”
O’Neill, who was seeking his first Belmont win, said that how quickly this colt bounced back is a sign of how fit he is.
“Look at his dapples. He’s so dappled it’s unbelievable. His coat is still beautiful. He’s full of energy and is just great this morning,” said the trainer while showing off his charge.
In 2012, O’Neill saw his hope of winning the Triple Crown with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another dashed when that colt was scratched on the eve of the race, and then he had to withdraw 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist from Belmont consideration when the colt spiked a fever two weeks before the race.
Twelve hours after watching Hot Rod Charlie, the winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, come so close in the 2021 Belmont, he’d had time to put the performance into perspective.
“We’re so proud of him. Super proud of Charlie,” he said of his team in the barn and the ownership group of Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, William Strauss and Gainesway Stable. “We all feel so blessed to be connected with a champion of a racehorse. The whole crew would do this with him even if there was no purse money. To compete at the highest level and see Charlie and Flavien Prat connect on the biggest stage and give such a monstrous effort, we’re going to carry that for days and weeks and months. We’re still buzzing.”
Hot Rod Charlie, by Preakness winner Oxbow out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Miss, has tangled with Belmont winner Essential Quality twice before. In the Kentucky Derby he was third, finishing in front of Essential Quality (fourth). In last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Essential Quality finished first but just ¾ lengths in front of “Charlie”.
O’Neill said a rematch in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on Augusta 28 at Saratoga is possible.
“I think that’s very logical,” said O’Neill. “The great thing about this group of guys is that they’re so patient. I’m sure we’ll talk about that in the next week or two, but just knowing the way this journey has played out, and hopefully, there are plenty more chapters in the Charlie tale, we probably won’t decide for another three weeks or so. But it is the most logical next spot. If he takes us there.”
Hot Rod Charlie was scheduled to fly back to O’Neill’s stable early next week.
“When you look as good as Charlie does this morning, when you scope as clean, and when his appetite is this good, and you’ve got a great horse, it’s a great journey,” he said.
Casa Creed and Chewing Gum comprise Mott-trained exacta in G1 Jackpocket Jaipur
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott saddled a pair of longshot chances in Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Jackpocket Jaipur and ended up completing a personal exacta when Casa Creed [10-1] posted a two-length score over stablemate Chewing Gum [28-1] in the six-furlong inner turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up.
Owned by LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable, the 5-year-old son of Jimmy Creed registered a career-best 105 Beyer for his first win since capturing the one-mile Grade 2 Hall of Fame in August 2019 at Saratoga.
While Saturday’s victory came with a “Win and You’re In” berth to the five-furlong Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar, Mott said the distance is likely too short for Casa Creed, who may have found a new niche after winning the seven-furlong Elusive Quality in April on the Belmont green after a long string of races at one mile or greater.
“We'd been looking for some races that would be appropriate, he's not necessarily the greatest miler, I suppose,” said Mott. “We've known he doesn't want to get over a mile.
“He ran the seven-eighths here and ran good,” added Mott regarding the Elusive Quality score. “We'd meant to try him in shorter races in the past but it didn't work out for one reason or another, but it worked out yesterday."
Mott said he was pleased with the condition of the turf for the Jaipur, which was rated as ‘good’ despite a deluge of rain on Friday that led to a yielding turf on Day Two of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival in which the Mott-trained Harvey’s Lil Goil finished an even fifth in the 10-furlong Grade 2, $750,000 New York.
Over a drying-out course in the Jaipur, Bound for Nowhere rattled off swift splits of 22.06 and 44.65 to the half-mile, setting up Casa Creed for a sharp closing kick, stopping the click in 1:08.04.
“Given the New York handicap the day before, I thought they might go three-quarters in 11 or 12,” said Mott. “The course held up really well. They weren't kicking up anything. I'll give the NYRA turf man a pat on the back for that. It was in good shape and handled the water well.”
Mott said he has no immediate target for Casa Creed.
“Maybe we'll have a chance to shorten him up to 5 ½,” he offered.
The Grade 3, $200,000 Troy presented by Horse Racing Ireland, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for older horses is slated for August 6 at Saratoga.
Junior Alvarado, who engineered the winning Jaipur trip, was at the Mott barn Sunday morning and expressed his joy at seeing Casa Creed break through at the top flight.
“He's been right there knocking on the door for a Grade 1 and finally he got it,” said Alvarado.
The veteran rider said it was good to hear the roar of the crowd on Saturday with 11,238 fans in attendance.
“It makes it more exciting,” said Alvarado. “We're competitive athletes and to have the fans there screaming and yelling, it definitely gets you more excited. We needed that yesterday.”
Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Jerold Zaro’s Chewing Gum rallied from last-of-9 to complete the exacta. The 6-year-old multiple graded-stakes placed son of Candy Ride earned a personal-best 99 Beyer.
“He ran a super race, take nothing away from him,” said Mott. “For me, he's the same [as Casa Creed]; a mile stretches him a little bit and five and a half [furlongs] is a little bit sharp - he's coming, it's amazing what they can do in that last sixteenth.”
The Mott-trained exacta returned $335.50 for a $2 wager.
Mott said the Estate of Harvey A. Clarke and Paul Braverman’s multiple graded-stakes winner Harvey’s Lil Goil, winner of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October at Keeneland, didn’t handle the yielding turf on Friday.
Michael Shanley’s Nova Rags, runner-up in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Peter Pan in May at Belmont, turned back to seven-furlongs and finished third behind winner Drain the Clock and runner-up Jackie’s Warrior in Saturday’s Grade 1 Woody Stephens.
“Grade 1 placed and got a check,” said Mott, with a grin. “He wasn't good enough yesterday, but we took our shot. We knew they'd go fast and hoped they would back up more than they did, but they didn’t. They kept going, two good horses.”
Juddmonte Farms homebred Obligatory, a sophomore daughter of Curlin, closed five-wide down the lane to finish second, by a half-length, to Search Results in Saturday’s Grade 1 Acorn.
Dayoutoftheoffice posted moderate splits of 23.50, 47.23 and 1:11 in the one-turn mile before giving way to the Kentucky Oaks-runner-up, who got the jump on Obligatory.
“She ran well; no pace,” said Mott. “It was a pace less race. Didn't suit her, but she still ran good. Take nothing away from the winner.”
Mott indicated Obligatory, winner of the Grade 2 Eight Belles in April at Churchill Downs, would target the seven-furlong Grade 1 Longines Test for sophomore fillies on August 7 at Saratoga.
Joseph, Jr. targets G1 glory at Saratoga with Drain the Clock, Mischevious Alex
Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Nentwig’s Drain the Clock kept an unbeaten record around one-turn intact when outdueling Jackie’s Warrior to capture the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.
The chestnut sophomore son of Maclean’s Music arrived at the seven-furlong event off an in-hand victory in the Grade 3 Bay Shore on April 3 at Aqueduct.
Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. said Drain the Clock emerged from his third graded stakes score in good order and will now target the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 25 at Saratoga Race Course.
“He came out of the race well. He ran a big race yesterday,” Joseph, Jr. said. “That was the first time he got involved in a duel and the horse he dueled with normally doesn’t get beat when he duels. It was a gutsy performance.”
Following victories in the Limehouse and Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park, Drain the Clock stretched out in distance in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, where he finished second beaten 1 ½ lengths to Greatest Honour. Following such an effort, Joseph, Jr. cut him back to one turn.
“It paid off yesterday and justified for not pushing the issue,” Joseph, Jr. said.
Primarily based at Gulfstream Park year round, Joseph, Jr. said Drain the Clock would most likely remain at Belmont Park for the time being.
“He’ll breeze in three weeks, that’s what we did last time,” said Joseph, Jr. “That was the first time we had so many breezes into a race and he seems to thrive off that. I would say most likely he’ll stay here, but it’s not set in stone yet.”
Later on the card, Joseph, Jr. saddled Mischevious Alex to a close third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. Although the son of Into Mischief captured the Grade 3 Gotham in March 2020 going a one-turn mile, Joseph, Jr. said the horse’s better runs are going an eighth to a quarter of a mile shorter. He plans on targeting the Grade 1, $350,000 A.G. Vanderbilt on July 31 and the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego, both at Saratoga Race Course, are the next goals moving forward.
“I think a mile might be stretching him at top class,” Joseph, Jr said. “I truly believe that going six or seven furlongs he’s one the best in the country. He ran his race, and we’ll aim for the two Grade 1 races at Saratoga and then hopefully the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.”
Godolphin starlets run one-two in G1 Longines Just a Game
Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game one-two finishers Althiqa and Summer Romance have exited their exertions in fine order, said Sophie Chretien, assistant to trainer Charlie Appleby.
The victorious Althiqa, a homebred for Godolphin, added to a huge day for Sheikh Mohammed’s global operation, having finished first and third in England’s Group 1 Cazoo Derby at Epsom with Adayar and Hurricane Lane.
The day ended with a near miss runner-up effort in the Belmont nightcap by Appleby-conditioned Desert Peace, a son of Curlin making his first start on turf.
“I definitely feel great relief,” Chretien said. “We have been here for a month and, myself, I didn’t know anything about Belmont or the track, nothing. I’m very happy with the fillies. They came back very well from the race and ate everything. They’re happy as Larry. They seem super happy here in this barn."
A fourth Appleby-trained charge, Rebel's Romance, was held out of the Belmont Stakes due to an infection.
“Desert Peace ran very well,” Chretien said. “It was his first time on the grass and I know he’s a Curlin and they go on both, but Mike Smith was very pleased with him. All three of our runners have done great and we have done a correct job. It’s obviously very disappointing for the big boy [Rebel’s Romance], but what’s most important is his health.”
Lone Rock’s solid effort in G2 Brooklyn win extends success going 1 1/2 miles
Flying P Stable’s Lone Rock has become a master of 12-furlong marathons, winning his third consecutive start in a 1 1/2-mile contest by capturing Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn presented by Northwell Health on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard at Belmont Park.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro earned his first career graded stakes wins at a New York track when Lone Rock dominated a nine-horse Brooklyn field to win by 11 1/4 lengths. The gelded son of Majestic Warrior earned the first career triple digit Beyer Speed Figure of his 33-start career, garnering an even 100 after pressuring Musical Heart’s early pace in second position before powering away a winner in a final time of 2:28.97 over a fast main track.
“He’s a nice horse who is just getting better,” Diodoro said. “Horses are athletes. Sometimes, they are late bloomers. He’s a horse who thrives on training, and you need that if you’re going to run a mile and a half. The more we train him, the stronger he gets.”
Lone Rock is 4-1-0 in five starts in his 6-year-old campaign, which started with an optional claiming victory going 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy and sealed Oaklawn Park track in February. Lone Rock was then stretched out to 12 furlongs for the first time next out and ran second by a neck to Carlos L. in the Temperance Hill in March at Oaklawn before posting a 6 3/4-length win against optional claimers at the same distance and track a month later.
That effort gave Diodoro confidence to enter him in the Isaac Murphy Marathon in April at Churchill Downs, and a 3 3/4-length win there prompted a more ambitious spot in the 132nd running of the Brooklyn. Lone Rock took advantage of the opportunity, earning his first graded stakes win in a career that started in 2017 when he broke his maiden at third asking at Indiana Grand Race Course.
“It goes back to his training; he does it so easy,” Diodoro said. “He’s a big horse with a long stride. Yesterday, he probably could have went another time around.”
Lone Rock, who has trained at Belmont, Oaklawn and Churchill this year, could next be in action for the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, with his conditioner citing the $120,000 Birdstone for older horses going 1 3/4 miles on August 5 as a possibility.
“We’ll definitely take him to Saratoga for the race going a mile and three-quarters; that most likely will be his next stop,” he said.
Diodoro won his second graded stakes since 2018 and the first of the year with Saturday’s effort.
“For our team, we’ve been winning races at most of the places where we’ve been and it’s been a good year so far, but we had been in a dry spell for winning these big races,” Diodoro said. “So, we couldn’t get a better place or time than to win it on Belmont Stakes Day. The team needed it. All the assistants and workers were pumped up. We needed a win like that.”
Kendrick Carmouche to have surgery; expected to miss 8-10 weeks
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche was his usual upbeat, positive, and optimistic self on Sunday morning, despite being hobbled on crutches with a broken right ankle suffered in a spill at the start of Saturday’s l3th and last race on the Belmont Stakes Day card.
“I talked to my doctor last night and I’m flying out tonight to Tennessee. He said both of the major bones on each side of my ankle are broken and I need surgery. They’re going to do it tomorrow and will have to put a plate in one side of my ankle and a screw in the other,” said Carmouche, who was accompanied by his wife, Whitney, who is celebrating her 40th birthday today.
The surgeon will be the same one who repaired his broken right leg, also a result of a spill, in September 2018.
The latest mishap occurred two races after the rider had finished fifth on Bourbonic in the last leg of the Triple Crown series. Carmouche said that his horse, Kentucky Pharoah, reacted badly out of the gate, unseating him, and then a horse stepped squarely on that ankle as he was lying on the turf course.
Carmouche was transported to a local medical facility by ambulance Saturday night. On Sunday morning he was looking at the bright side of the situation, saying that he has no intention of staying sidelined for the entire Saratoga meet.
“I ain’t missing nothing,” he said with a broad smile. “I’ll be back, better than ever.”
To his many fans Carmouche tweeted, “Life is good. God is great, Lot of prayer, I’ll see ya’ll soon, Keep pushing!!!”
Kentucky Pharoah was caught by the outrider after completing the course and walked home.