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Saturday November 18 2017
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Big names shined brightest in Stars & Stripes festival at Belmont Park

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Keen Ice's upset win over Shaman Ghost's and Mind Your Biscuits' dominating run in the Belmont Sprint highlighted a day of fantastic racing in New York Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y.— With 12,667 on hand, the Stars & Stripes Festival went off Saturday at Belmont Park with two grade 1 races highlighting an 11-race program. 

King of Belmont

Oscar Performance (5-1) took the 68th running of the Belmont Derby Invitational with no competition, bringing a wire-to-wire schooling to the 11-horse field, despite a fractious break, where the three-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy banged off the side of the stall before corralling the pace in the 1 and 1/4 mile, $1.2 million-dollar race.

“He broke slow and I had to chase him the first quarter of a mile,” said jockey Jose Ortiz, who rode to five wins on Saturday’s card.  “In the backside, he relaxed real well.  I backed the pace down a little and he was full of run when I asked him to go.

The Brian Lynch-trained three-year-old is now 3-for-3 on the Belmont inner-turf course, winning two Grade-3 races in the Pilgrim and the Pennine Ridge, which he ran on June 17.  Oscar Performance’s lone career win outside of Belmont came in the (G1) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

4

Oscar Performance

13.00

6.90

4.80

5

Called To The Bar (IRE)

 

8.10

5.10

3

Homesman

   

8.30

$2.00 EXACTA 4/5 paid $113.00, $2.00 TRIFECTA 4/5/3 paid $799.00, $2.00 SUPERFECTA 4/5/3/1 paid $4,185.00

Ortiz, who rode Oscar Performance to the 1:37.35 two-lengths finish over Called to the Bar, then Homesman, won five total races on Saturday’s card, including an upset win aboard Keen Ice (5-1) in the grade 2 Suburban over heavy favorite Shaman Ghost.

Catching the ghost

Winless since taking over trainer duties with the five-year-old bay colt, Todd Pletcher finally broke through Saturday, as Keen Ice knocked off the half-odd favorite Shaman Ghost by three-lengths in 2:02.02 in the 1 and 1/4 mile race. 

“Keen Ice had a ton of run in him,” Ortiz explained.  “We got the best from him today, and that’s something you can expect from a horse like him.”

A son of Curlin, Keen Ice most famously clipped American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

“He was in good position.  He didn’t get too far back off the slow fractions.  He just finished up big,” Pletcher said.

“We were hoping not to get too far back, and it looked like on paper that it was potentially going to be a slow pace,” the 2017 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer continued.  “He’s one of those horses you got to kind of play to the way he wants to run.  You can’t force him to show more speed when he doesn’t want to.  It was nice to see him break, put himself in the race.  You can tell he was trying to take Jose along, without Jose having to ask much of him.”

A winner of the (G1) Santa Anita Handicap, and strong second place finisher to Arrogate in the (G1) Pegasus World Cup, Shaman Ghost (son of Ghostzapper), stalked pacesetter Matt King Coal at the first three quarters (:25.28, :50.01, 1:13.81).

At the final turn, Keen Ice took to the outside to close the gap on Shaman Ghost, who captured the lead from a tailing out Matt King Coal.  Keen Ice then kept the outside lane to surge past Shaman Ghost, who finished second along the rail.  Keen Ice answered his dismal seventh place finish in the (G1) Dubai World Cup.

1

Keen Ice

12.00

3.90

2.80

6

Shaman Ghost

 

2.30

2.10

5

Follow Me Crev

   

3.70

$2.00 EXACTA 1/6 paid $28.00, $2.00 TRIFECTA 1/6/5 paid $96.00, $2.00 SUPERFECTA 1/6/5/4 paid $180.50

‘Biscuit’ schooling

Mind Your Biscuits (7/5) was business as usual in The Belmont Sprint Championship (G2)- a “Win and You’re in” Breeders’ Cup Sprint Division race, where the four-year-old (G1) Golden Shaheen winner whisked the seven-horse field with a smoking final time of 1:21.84 in the seven-furlong run, earning his connections a spot in the Breeders’ Cup in November. 

“You don’t need to ask much from a horse like ‘Biscuit,’” said jockey Jose Rosario, who has been in the irons for the horse’s last five starts (winning three of them).  “He kept the speed, he stayed true and finished strong like he does.”

Trained by Chad Summers, the chestnut colt—son of Posse—finished off Awesome Slew by three and a half lengths, leaving his stiffest competition Unified (2-1)—who defeated Mind Your Biscuits in a thrilling nose-length finish in the (G3) Gulfstream Park Sprint back in Feb—well behind, after the four-year-old son of Candy Ride tailed off from the pace with Green Gratto (20-1) to a last place finish.

Mind Your Biscuits jumped the lead at the final turn—after surviving a quick pace of :22.67, :45.64 and 1:09.09—taking the middle lane between four horses including Green Gratto and Stillwalkin’ Dude (5-1), using his bullet-like speed to stave off one last push from second-place finisher Awesome Slew (5-1), who tried to take the horse on from the outside.

2

Mind Your Biscuits

4.80

3.30

2.10

5

Awsome Slew

 

4.90

3.40

4

Tommy Mach

   

3.80

$2.00 EXACTA 2/5 paid $29.00, $2.00 TRIFECTA 2/5/4 paid $116.00, $2.00 SUPERFECTA 2/5/4/1 paid $300.00

Joke’s on you

Practical Joke (4/5) joined a slew of 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders to rally and win a graded race in his next start, taking the 100th running of The Dwyer (G3) in the sixth at Belmont.  What was thought to be a two-horse race in the five-horse field, turned into a bit of a second-place tossup, as Battalion Runner (even), who had the lead coming down the stretch, sputtered out along the rail, while 43-1 longshot Tale of Silence took the place honors behind a stoic two-length push to the wire from the son of Into Mischief, who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

Practical Joke, who finished with a final time of 1:35.16 in the one mile race, joins Battle of Midway, Hence, Irap, Thunder Snow and Tapwrit as horses that raced in the Kentucky Derby that won their next graded race.

3

Practical Joke

3.50

2.80

2.10

1

Tale of Sil]ence

 

12.00

4.10

2

Battalion Runner

   

2.10

$2.00 EXACTA 3/1 paid $54.50, $2.00 TRIFECTA 3/1/2 paid $115.00, $2.00 SUPERFECTA 3/1/2/5 paid $247.00

Big money, honey

New Money Honey (5/2) won the only other grade 1 race of the day in the 39th running of The Belmont Oaks Invitational, with a million-dollar purse.  The three-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’ Oro stalked the pace at a calm clip of :49.50 at the half-mile, then steadily approaching by the 3/4 mark before steaming ahead on the outside past Grizzel (39-1) and Dynatail (20-1), corralling the lead and perfect position, staving off a strong closing run by Sistercharlie (2-1), who was finished at the wire by a head’s length at a final time of 1:59.89 in the one and 1/4 mile run.

“Obviously, this filly ran terrific,” said trainer Chad Brown.  “She got good position early, up in the front.  She was moving along pretty good.  It looked like Javier (Castellano) backed off just a little bit in that first run, and she kicked great.”

In all Brown had three horses (Sistercharlie, Fifty-Five) in the race.

“They looked terrific,” said Brown of his trifecta.  “They look like they’re going to have outstanding careers here.”

8

New Money Honey

7.00

3.30

2.90

Sistercharlie (IRE)

 

3.30

2.80

Uni (GB)]

   

4.00

$2.00 EXACTA 8/12 paid $21.20, $2.00 TRIFECTA 8/12/7 paid $102.50, $2.00 SUPERFECTA 8/12/7/11 paid $540.00

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