Crupi scores in thrilling renewal of G2 Suburban
Stakes Recap
Jun 8, 2024
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Crupi scores in thrilling renewal of G2 Suburban

by Mary Eddy

A thrilling stretch drive saw six horses across the racetrack at the top of the stretch in Saturday’s Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban, but it was the Irad Ortiz, Jr.-piloted Crupi who turned back all challengers to capture the 10-furlong test for older horses at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course.

The Suburban was one of nine graded stakes lined up on the loaded 14-race Belmont Stakes Day card, which is highlighted by the 156th running of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets in Race 12.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher for Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, the 4-year-old Curlin chestnut posted his first graded stakes victory with a well-timed ride by Ortiz, Jr., aboard for the first time in the afternoon. The son of Curlin rebounded well from a distant off-the-board finish in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in March at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

"I said he ran so bad in Dubai it didn't take anything out of him. He shipped back really well,” said Pletcher. “We took our time with him. He probably could have been ready a little earlier but we wanted to be conservative and wait for this. Since he got back from Dubai we've been pointing for this. I'm glad it worked out.”

Crupi emerged from post 6-of-7 after the scratch of stablemate Charge It this morning, and brushed with post-time favorite Bendoog to his outside before settling in last early as Kuchar rushed up to take command past the wire for the first time and through an opening quarter-mile in 23.70 seconds over the fast footing. Signator slipped up the rail in the first turn to take up third position behind the wide-running Good Skate.

Kuchar bounded through the half-mile in 47.85 and three-quarters in 1:11.93 with positions unchanged before Bendoog made a swift move in the four-path under Jose Lezcano to challenge for the lead entering the final turn as Good Skate quickly retreated and Masqueparade moved in tandem with Time for Trouble. A patient Ortiz, Jr. nudged Crupi along to keep up with the early bids of his rivals, but held his charge in reserve through the top of the stretch as they went widest of all to set up a dramatic six-wide stretch run.

Bendoog stuck his head in front of a stubborn Kuchar as they straightened for home before ducking inside at the eighth pole in hopes of warding off the late bids from Masqueparade and Crupi, but the latter unleashed a strong turn of foot and made up ground with every stride down the center of the course to sweep past his hard-trying rivals and claim the victory by a half-length in a final time of 2:02.71.

Bendoog held onto second by a neck over Masqueparade with Time for Trouble completing the superfecta another length back. Kuchar and Signator completed the order of finish, while Good Skate, who was out of contention before the final turn, was pulled up in the stretch and vanned off.

Per the New York Racing Association, Inc.’s (NYRA) Veterinary Department Director, Good Skate lost action and was provided a van ride back to the barn as a precaution. The horse did not present any obvious or apparent injury upon initial evaluation.

Pletcher, who won his third consecutive Suburban and fourth overall after winning with Keen Ice [2017], Dynamic One [2022] and Charge It [2023], said Crupi showed courage to win after such a wide stretch run.

"My concern was that I didn't see a whole lot of pace, on paper, and he's not the kind of horse where you can change his style. He's a horse that wants to make one late run,” said Pletcher. “We had to sacrifice some ground around the far turn to get him in the clear, but he kept coming. He showed a lot of courage in the lane. He fought hard for the win.”

The win marked the fourth Suburban for Ortiz, Jr., who said Crupi was well within himself.

“He cooperated so well with me, to be honest. He was doing everything I asked him to do. He broke good,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “He doesn’t have too much speed early, so he just sat back and relaxed. He started moving forward on his own. I was happy, so I just bided my time until it was time ask him to go. By the turn, I asked him to go forward and he did and he kept kicking in until the end. He really stays. At the eighth-pole, I asked him a couple times and he kept coming; kept grinding.”

Pletcher added future targets at the Spa for Crupi at the Spa could include the nine-furlong Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 3 and/or the 10-furlong Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 1.

“I guess we've got the Jockey Club at a mile-and-a-quarter at the end of the meet. We'll see what we do between now and then,” Pletcher said. “I suppose the Whitney is a possibility.”

Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm, Crupi won a pair of Listed stakes this winter at Aqueduct Racetrack in the Discovery and Queens County ahead of a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January at Gulfstream Park. He earned $192,500 for his Suburban victory and improved his lifetime record to 15-5-2-4 while returning $7.10 on a $2 win ticket.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who sent out Arthur’s Ride to dominate a 10-furlong allowance in 2:00.99 yesterday at the Spa, said runner-up and beaten favorite Bendoog, who was dual group-placed in Dubai, was valiant in defeat.

“He ran well. He had a decent trip. They ran two seconds slower than the horse did yesterday,” Mott Said. “I don’t know if the track’s the same. He kept trying, you know? He kept trying. He got the distance, but barely. Coming around the first turn he was three-wide [but] he came from the outside post. It’s just what happens. I’m sure if he could have tucked in behind two horses [he would have], but he had no chance to really tuck in.”

Live racing resumes Sunday with the 12-race Closing Day program of the four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, featuring the Grade 1, $150,000 Beverly R. Steinman steeplechase in Race 1, and six New York-bred stakes to celebrate the best of racing in the Empire State for New York Showcase Day. The $125,000 Mike Lee is carded as Race 3, with the $200,000 Commentator in Race 6; the $200,000 Critical Eye in Race 8; and three consecutive stakes to close the day with the $125,000 Mount Vernon in Race 10; the $1250,000 Bouwerie in Race 11 and the $125,000 Kingston in the finale. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, and the best way to bet every race of the four-day meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at

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