Saturday, July 5, 2014

Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) Recap

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Minorette caps big double for trainer Brown with victory in G1 Belmont Oaks; $177k Pick 6 carryover into Sunday's card


By Jon Forbes


ELMONT, N.Y. - Minorette, who was making her third start for trainer Chad Brown and jockey Joel Rosario, validated her trainer's confidence with a two-length victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational on Saturday at Belmont Park.


It was the second graded stakes win on the Stars & Stripes Day card for Brown, who had won the previous race, the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, with Zivo.


Minorette, who began her career in Ireland with trainer Aidan O'Brien, was backed as the 6-1 third choice here against a diverse cast of 3-year-old fillies in the Belmont Oaks, a 1 ¼-mile turf race that was previously contested at 1 1/8 miles in September as the Grade 1 Garden City. She was one of four horses in the Pick 6 sequence who returned double digits to win, helping set up a two-day carryover of $177,447 into Sunday's card.


After breaking inwardly, Minorette was guided over to the inside from post 9 by Rosario, racing in third as Sea Queen set fractions of 24.87 for the opening-quarter mile, 50.14 for the half, 1:14.57 for three quarters, and 1:38.02 for the mile over ground labeled "good."


With two furlongs to travel, Minorette hooked to the three path to commence her stretch run, steadily reeling in Sea Queen and surging to the lead a sixteenth from the finish. Summer Solo was third, 3 ¼ lengths behind the winner and three-quarters of a length in front of fourth-place finisher Xcellence.


Minorette, who covered the Belmont Oaks' distance in 2:01.64 and returned $14.60 for a $2 win wager, won a single race and was stakes-placed in four starts as a juvenile in Ireland for O'Brien, who was represented in the Belmont Oaks by fifth-place finisher Wonderfully.


Owners Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith sent Minorette to the United States for her 3-year-old campaign, which began with a closing third-place finish in a one-mile entry-level allowance in April at Keeneland. She had a single prep at Belmont Park, leading in the stretch of the 1 1/8-mile Wonder Again on May 25 before giving way late when runner-up to Sea Queen, who prevailed that day by a half-length.


"She moves like she wanted to go longer," said Rosario. "Last time, I moved a little early to take the lead and she waited a little bit. This time I wanted to be a little closer because it looked like there wasn't a lot of speed. I could see [Sea Queen] on the outside and wanted to keep an eye on her, and I didn't want to move early. When she took the lead she just kept on going."


Brown was in agreement with Rosario prior to the Belmont Oaks.


"The more I got to train her, even before we first ran her, she just moved and looked like a mile-and-a-quarter horse," said Brown. "Her pedigree wouldn't deter you from that, either. We just took our time with her. I tell you, the Coolmore group, wonderful organization to train for. They never told me where to run, when to run. 'It's a nice filly we're giving you, and just give us some feedback.' After the race at Keeneland at a mile when she was closing pretty good and got a good number out of the race, I immediately circled this big one and said, 'Let's just go for it.' I gave her a local prep and it worked, because that's what preps are for. She got a run over the course, and the jock got to know her. When the money counted today, he rode her perfect."


Minorette, now 2-1-2 in seven starts, earned $535,000 for her Belmont Oaks win, pushing her bankroll to $603,774. The chestnut daughter of Smart Strike was bred in Kentucky by the Silk And Scarlet Syndicate.


The attendance on the inaugural Stars & Stripes Day - which featured the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational, Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship, and Grade 3 Dwyer in addition to the Belmont Oaks - was 11,184.


"A big day, a wonderful day of racing they put on here," said Brown. "It's exciting just to be part of it. I'm lucky to even have horses to be part of most of the program. To walk away with two winners, a great day for me and my team. I'm here doing the interview, but I'll tell you I have a wonderful staff underneath me that's working day in and day out. And without them, none of this is possible."


Goldy Espony, who also is trained by Brown, finished fifth, ahead of favored Room Service, Flying Jib, Rosalind, and Recepta. My Conquestadory was scratched.



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