by Los Alamitos Press Release
July 15, 2017
CYPRESS, Calif. – The Grade III, $200,000 Los Alamitos Derby and the $150,000 Forbidden Apple are part of a special cross-country Pick 4 being offered Saturday.
Two races from Los Alamitos and a pair from Belmont Park will comprise the 50-cent minimum wager, which is being labeled “New York-Los Alamitos Pick 4.’’
Besides the Forbidden Apple, which is scheduled for one mile on the turf and attracted 11 runners - including one main track only entrant – the other race from Belmont is a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old maidens bred in New York.
The Forbidden Apple, which is the eighth on the New York Racing Association program, has an approximate post time of 2:18 p.m. PDT while the ninth race for maidens is scheduled to run at 2:50 p.m. PDT.
In addition to the Los Alamitos Derby, which is headed by Easy Goer Stakes winner West Coast, the other local racepart of the exotic wager is an optional claimer for older horses at one mile.
Both of the Los Alamitos races have eight entrants. Post time for the first of the two Los Alamitos races is scheduled for 4:28 p.m. PDT while the Derby is scheduled to go at approximately 4:58.
ELMONT, N.Y. - With a breathtaking, wire-to-wire tour de force under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, undefeated Justify became racing's 13th Triple Crown winner on Saturday at Belmont Park, sweeping to a 1 ¾-length victory over Gronkowski to add the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets to his triumphs in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The victory over Belmont Park's sweeping 1 ½-mile oval was the sixth straight for Justify, who joined Seattle Slew - also a wire-to-wire Belmont winner in 1977 - as the only undefeated winners of the Triple Crown. All six of the rangy chestnut colt's wins have come in 2018, beginning with a maiden victory on February 18 at Santa Anita Park and culminating just shy of 16 weeks later in the Belmont. "This horse ran a tremendous race," said Smith, who at 52 is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven. He's just amazing. "Did you see him standing in the gate?" added Smith, sporting the red-and-gold silks of China Horse Club after having worn the white-and-green colors of WinStar Farm in the Derby and Preakness. "He's standing so still ... I actually thought, 'He's not going to break today.' I mean, he left there like he was going 440 yards in Ruidoso, New Mexico." Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled American Pharoah to end a 37-year-old Triple Crown drought in 2015, thus became the second trainer along with "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons to train two Triple Crown winners, with Fitzsimmons having conditioned Gallant Fox (1930) and his son, Omaha (1935). Other Triple Crown winners include Sir Barton (1919), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948) and Secretariat (1973). "It's amazing," said Baffert, who had Triple Crown near-misses with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). "It never gets old. American Pharoah, he'll always be my first love. "[This horse] was showing me the same signs [as American Pharoah], he showed me that same brilliance. Superior horse. I mean, he could have won every race on the undercard today. He's just that kind of horse." Smith, who won his third Belmont to go with those in 2010 (Drosselmeyer) and 2013 (Palace Malice), sent Justify straight to the lead from the No. 1 post, which since 1905 has produced 24 winners of the Belmont, the most of any post position. The big colt took command before the first turn, settling into a comfortable rhythm as stablemate Restoring Hope and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Bravazo kept him in their sights. Galloping through fractions of 23.37 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 48.11 for the half, 1:13.21 for three quarters and 1:38.09 for the mile, Justify entered the far turn without having been asked for run, still two lengths clear of his stablemate and closest rival, with Bravazo hanging on in third. Approaching the quarter pole, with the crowd on its feet and screaming, Gronkowski was hitting his best stride from far back, picking off a half-dozen rivals to gain third even as Vino Rosso was moving into second. Once in the stretch, however, Justify continued to roll along, giving no signs of quitting, and Gronkowski had to settle for second, with second choice Hofburg coming on to edge Vino Rosso by a neck for show. "He broke a bit slow," said jockey Jose Ortiz aboard Gronkowski, who was making his American debut. "He's a horse from England. After that, I didn't have any choice. I had to drop in and save all the ground. He handled the dirt. I worked him twice and he handled it, so I was optimistic. We got a good trip, it worked out well. He broke a bit slow. I wish he would have broke a little bit better." "There was no pace and nobody put any pressure on [Justify] and he kind of walked the dog going around there," said Bill Mott, Hall of Fame trainer of Hofburg. "They were going slow and [jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.] said he didn't want to make some crazy move down the backside to go join him, which probably wouldn't have made any sense. Our horse came running. He ran well. I mean, for not having any pace, he finished up very well. "Mike [Smith]'s great, obviously, and Justify is probably a great horse," he added. "I mean, they're a good combination and they got the job done. We saw another Triple Crown winner. A lot of people are happy about it." Justify's winning time was 2:28.18 for the 1 ½ miles over a track rated fast, unlike his two previous wins, which came over sloppy tracks at Churchill Downs and Pimlico. In addition to the three Triple Crown races, Justify's resume includes his maiden win, an optional claiming victory, and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, all with a combined winning margin of 23 ¾ lengths. Owned in partnership by China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners, Justify earned $800,000 for the win and boosted his bankroll to $3,798,000. Completing the order of finish after Vino Rosso were Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy.
ELMONT, N.Y. - Nearly 100 New York-breds will gather for a unique 11-race card on Saturday at Belmont Park to celebrate the best of New York for the annual Empire Showcase Day. In addition to eight stakes races worth $1.75 million, anchored by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap, Empire Showcase Day also marks the return of the critically acclaimed Belmont Park Live, airing on MSG+ and FOX Sports Ohio from 4 to 6 p.m. with live coverage and analysis of the $150,000 Hudson, the $200,000 Mohawk, and the $250,000 Empire Distaff. Halloween-themed family fun day activities will also be available on Saturday in Belmont Park's backyard including a pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating, a Halloween maze, a hayride, a mechanical bull, carnival booths, face painting, "trick or treat" stations, and a costume contest for children. Gates will open at 11:00 a.m., with the first race scheduled for 12:25 p.m. Defending champion Royal Posse leads a field of nine in the Empire Classic as he looks to become the first back-to-back winner of the 1 1/8-mile race since Spite the Devil in 2004-05. One of three entrants from trainer Rudy Rodriguez, the 6-year-old Posse gelding is still looking for his first win of 2017 with his best effort of the year coming with a third-place finish in the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out in May. Royal Posse was most recently sixth in a competitive optional claiming race behind Vulcan's Forge and You're to Blame at a mile on September 15. Royal Posse will be ridden by Luis Saez from the outside post. Rodriguez will also saddle Becker's Galaxy, who finished third in an optional-claimer October 9 after being claimed for $40,000 this summer at Saratoga, and Control Group, riding a three-race win streak this summer. Last time out, Control Group, a 3-year-old colt by Posse, bested New York-breds on August 31 at Saratoga by 2 ½ lengths in a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming race. Expected to generate significant interest is Twisted Tom from the Chad Brown barn, looking to graduate against older horses following victories in the New York Derby and the Albany this summer. A 3-year-old chestnut gelding by Creative Cause, Twisted Tom owns six wins from nine career starts, including his 4 ½-length Albany victory on August 25 last time out. Twisted Tom will break from post 3 with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard. Also on tap for the Empire Classic, carded as Race 5, are Albany runner-up Can You Diggit; Papa Shot, coming off a third-place finish in the Korea Cup in Seoul on September 10; last year's runner-up Governor Malibu; 2016 Albany winner Hit It Once More; and Testosterstone, second in the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup in September at Parx. Kicking off the day's stakes actions is $250,000 Maid of the Mist as Race 2, featuring graded stakes winner Pure Silver, set to make her first start since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Spinaway on September 2 at Saratoga Race Course. Trained by Todd Pletcher for Twin Creeks Racing, the Mission Impazible filly won her first three starts, including a 9 ½-length romp in the Grade 2 Adirondack on August 12 at the Spa. Also entering are Joseph A. Gimma winner Held Accountable, Berning Rose, Cause We Are Loyal, Droselmeyr's Smile, I Still Miss You, Miss Mystique, and Newport Breeze. In Race 3, battle-tested fillies Quezon, Wonderment, and Absatootly are set to square off in the $150,000 Iroquois for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. Owned by Marc Keller and trained by Bobby Ribaudo, Quezon won last year's edition of the Iroquois and has been winless this year despite third-place showings in the Grade 3 Vagrancy and the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom. Wonderment enters off a victory in the Artic Queen on October 2 at Finger Lakes, while Absatootly ran fourth last time out in the Gallant Boom on September 24. The three entrants will be joined by Picco Uno, Royal Inheritance, and Cozzy Spring. Peter Brant's Fifty Five headlines a field of nine competitors in the $200,000 Ticonderoga contested over 1 1/16 on Belmont Park's inner turf. The 3-year-old Get Stormy filly enters off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Sands Point, the first time she didn't hit the board in seven starts this year including a win in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks and a second in the Grade 3 Wonder Again. Fifty Five breaks from post 5 and gets the services of Castellano for Brown, who also enters 2016 Grade 2 Lake George winner Ancient Secret with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott entered multiple graded stakes winner Flipcup, who is looking to regain her winning form after a 16 month drought following her score in the 2016 running of the Grade 3 Arlington Matron. Rounding out the field is Barrel of Dreams, Broken Border, Feeling Bossy, Frosty Margarita, Table for Six and Tizzelle. In Race 6, the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds, Analyze the Odds, winner of the New York Breeders' Futurity on September 30 at Finger Lakes, returns to Belmont for owner Mike Repole and Pletcher. With two starts at Belmont, including a third-place finish in the Rockville Centre on July 15, the Overanalyze colt will face Bertram F. Bongard runner-up Inalienable Rights, Battle Station, Big Gemmy, Bourbonfuhrme, Engineers Report, Lover's Leap, Mr. Pete, Stoney Bennet, and We Should Talk. Zilla Racing's multiple stakes winner Celtic Chaos headlines a deep field of 10 competitors in the $150,000 Hudson, a 6 ½ furlong sprint over Belmont Park's Big Sandy. Exiting a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Vosburgh on September 30 at Belmont, the 4-year-old Dublin colt will look to capture his third stakes win of the year following his win in the John Morrissey at Saratoga Race Course in July and the Affirmed Success at Belmont in April. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee will get the services of jockey Eric Cancel. Multiple stakes winners Ostrolenka, Gold for the King, Pat On the Back, Sudden Surprise and Weekend Hideaway are entered as are Bust Another, Candid Desire, Eye Luv Lulu and T Loves a Fight. Offering Plan is hoping a cut back in class will help the 5-year-old son of Spring At Last in the $200,000 Mohawk at 1 1/16 miles on Belmont Park's inner turf. He enters off a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland on October 7 last out. Castellano gets the mount for Brown, who has also entered Nevisian Sky, who will be making his stakes debut. Rounding out the full field of seven entrants is All Is Number, Black Tide, Cloontia, Converge, and Rapt. The $250,000 Empire Distaff, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, will bring down the curtain on the day's stakes offerings as Race 10, which has attracted a field of nine led by Literata for the Rodriguez barn. Literata, a 6-year-old mare by Read the Footnotes, posted back-to-back wins this summer, including a half-length score in the Saratoga Dew on August 14. She finished third behind Tejana and Going for Broke in an optional claiming race against open company on September 28. Literata will be ridden by Castellano from post 8. Also entered in the Empire Distaff are half-sisters Jc's Shooting Star and Jcs American Dream, Pride of Saratoga, Verdant Pastures, No Hayne No Gayne, Bonita Bianca, Might Be, and Five Star Rampage.