Senbei gate to wire in Gold Fever
by Keith McCalmont
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Darlene Bilinski’s multiple New York-bred stakes winner Senbei made his open-company and seasonal debut a winning one in Sunday’s $100,000 Gold Fever, a six-furlong sprint for sophomores, at Belmont Park.
Trained by Christophe Clement and piloted through all six career starts by Manny Franco, the Candy Ride chestnut won 4-of-5 starts last year, taking the Funny Cide in August at Saratoga Race Course, the New York Breeders’ Futurity in October at Finger Lakes and the Notebook last out on November 14 at Aqueduct Racetrack. His only loss came to Shipsational in the Bertram F. Bongard over Big Sandy in September.
Provocateur, last-out winner of the Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park, broke alertly as the 7-5 post-time favorite from post 3 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., but Franco quickly urged Senbei to the front from the outermost post 6 to mark the opening quarter-mile in 22.51 seconds over the fast main track.
Senbei led the field to the turn with Provocateur saving ground in second as the Joel Rosario-piloted Fluid Situation advanced into third through a half-mile in 45.85. Fluid Situation loomed large with a menacing move outside rivals late in the turn as Senbei continued to dictate terms.
Provocateur waited patiently for an opening at the rail as the field straightened away with Fluid Situation racing greenly and lugging with an eighth of a mile to run. But Senbei, game and determined, turned back all rivals and ran away to a neck score in a final time of 1:10.58 over Provocateur, who surged up the rail with three-sixteenths to run to complete the exacta by 2 1/2-lengths over Runninsonofagun. Fluid Situation, Dance Code and Don’t Wait Up rounded out the order of finish.
Clement said he had considered saving Senbei for the $125,000 Mike Lee against fellow state-breds on May 30, but the colt was training too well.
"We brought him back and he trained very well. He actually trained with Listentoyourheart, who won the two-other-than on Saturday," Clement said. "They trained together the last three breezes and he trained well. Manny knows him very well and rides him very well. My only instructions to Manny was to break well and work it out.
“He’s a New York-bred but he’s not just a New York-bred," Clement added. "He won a lot of races as a 2-year-old."
Franco said he rode to Senbei’s strengths.
“He has speed out of the gate and we weren’t going to change anything today,” Franco said. “I let him break out of there and do his thing. He got it done.”
Bred in the Empire State by Dr. Jerry Bilinski, Senbei banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 6-5-1-0. He returned $5.60 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Thursday at Belmont with a nine-race card. First post is 3:05 p.m. Eastern.
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