Homeland Security prevails in Zagora
by NYRA Press Office
Seek and Destroy starts stakes action with Chelsey Flower win;
Sower superior in Pumpkin Pie
Homeland Security held off Golden Attitude to capture the featured $125,000 Zagora, one of three stakes on Closing Day of the Belmont Park Fall Meet.
Sent to post as the 5-2 second choice, the Chad Brown trainee picked up her second career stakes score with a stalking trip in the 1 1/2 miles turf marathon for fillies and mares, as jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. picked up his third win of the day while securing the Fall Meet owner title for Klaravich Stables.
Beau Belle, with Joe Bravo up, led the field past the wire for the first time over a soft Widener turf course, with Homeland Security tracking through a quarter-mile in 25.96 seconds and a half-mile in 52:59. Beau Belle continued to lead the parade down the backstretch with the favored Chipolata moving into fourth position approaching the final turn, and Homeland Security looming large from second.
Ortiz, Jr. asked Homeland Security to engage through the turn and quickly wrestled the lead away from the pacesetter as Golden Attitude launched a menacing run from the back. Homeland Security, game to the wire, drifted out down the lane but had enough in the tank to secure a half-length win. Golden Attitude completed the exacta, 2 ½-lengths in front of True Egyptian. Homeland Security, who returned $7.90 for a $2-win wager, stopped the clock in 2:37.49.
"I didn't want to be too far away on the turn. I just followed the instructions. He [trainer Chad Brown] knows his horses and told me I had to be there," said Ortiz, Jr. "It was soft turf, so I didn't want to be too far. I was close, and she appreciated the soft ground, and she came through for me in the end."
Owned by Klaravich Stables, in partnership with William H. Lawrence, and bred in Kentucky by Reiko and Michael Baum, Homeland Security banked $68,750 in victory while improving her record to four wins from eight starts.
Indy Union, Tigalalu, Arewehavingfunyet, Matty's Magnum and Queen of Connaught were scratched.
E Five Racing Thoroughbreds' Seek and Destroy started the day's stakes action in Race 4 with a gate-to-wire 3 ½-length win in the seventh running of the $100,000 Chelsey Flower for juvenile fillies.
Originally slated for one mile on the Widener turf, the race was moved to the same distance on a sloppy and sealed main track. The conditions did not deter Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who sent Seek and Destroy to the lead in the six-horse field, posting fractions of 23.76 seconds for a quarter-mile with the half in 48.11.
Out of the turn, Seek and Destroy opened up by three lengths and outkicked Hollywood Glory to hit the wire in a final time of 1:39.78.
Off as the 5-2 choice after being entered for the main-track only, the Brown trainee returned $7.70 on a $2-win wager to win her stakes debut. She more than doubled career bankroll to $101,860.
"The way she ran, I think she liked a muddy track," Castellano said. "She enjoys that type of surface. I have to give the credit to Mr. Brown, they entered her as an MTO and I think it was the right spot. It came off the turf and the way it played out, everything worked out great. She can just gallop along on the lead. I was very impressed."
Take Ten finished 6 ¼ lengths behind Hollywood Glory for third. Two Dozen Roses, Shoobiedoobydoo and Tweety Kitten completed the order of finish. Lucky Lips, Multi Strategy, On the Town, Stormy D and Sweet Timing were scratched.
In the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie, carded as Race 7, Leonard Green's Sower, making her first start at Belmont since finishing third in the Grade 3 Victory Ride, relished the class relief to best a field of seven.
Breaking from post 4 as the even money post-time favorite in the seven-furlong main track sprint for fillies and mares, Sower, piloted by Ortiz, Jr., quickly darted to the front setting fractions of 23.41 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and a half-mile in 47.42. Tequilita tried in vain to reel in the leader at the top of the stretch, but Sower extended away comfortably to secure the victory by 5 ¼ lengths.
Returning $4.20 for a $2 win wager, the daughter of Flatter boosted her career earnings to $256,840 while picking up her second stakes win at Belmont following the Jersey Girl on June 10.
Her final time for the seven-furlong distance was 1:24.16 over a muddy and sealed track.
"I thought it was a beautiful race and she handled the seven furlongs very well," said Rice. "She's won a stake on this track before, clearly she likes it. She's a young, improving filly and today was her first time against older fillies and mares. I was very happy and thrilled Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Green were here to experience the win first-hand today."
Following Tequilita in second was Silly Sister, Sexy Reasons, Tiffany Case, Bertranda and Squan's Kingdom.
Live racing now moves to the Big A for the Aqueduct Fall Meet which kicks off on Friday, November 2. Gates open Friday at 11 a.m., with a first-race post time at 12:15 p.m.