ELMONT, N.Y. – Despite an overcast Memorial Day afternoon at Belmont Park, New York-breds had ample room to shine on Big Apple Showcase Day, with six stakes races worth $900,000 on the 10-race holiday card.
The $125,000 Kingston, which saw the renewed rivalry of fan favorites King Kreesa, Kharafa, and Lubush was given a backseat to 7-2 third choice Tapitation as the 5-year-old son of Tapit upset the field of nine to earn his first career stakes victory.
Breaking last from post position 8 with Joel Rosario in the irons, the Ralph Nicks-trainee stalked a blistering pace set by Macagone who led the field through fractions of 22.60 seconds for the opening quarter-mile on the Widener turf course, with the half going in 45.35. Making his winning move traveling five-wide at the top of the stretch, Tapitation surpassed King Kreesa in the late stretch to secure the victory by 1 ¾ lengths.
Tapitation completed the mile in 1:35.92. Returning $9.90 for a $2 win wager, the victory boosted his career earnings to $264,130 for Whisper Hill Farm.
“I was happy, because it looked like the pace was very fast in front me,” said Rosario. “I just took my time and he was ready to go and he did it on his own. I was just a passenger.”
Fading late, Kharafa was overtaken by King Kreesa to finish third followed by Lubash, Captain Gaughen, Macagone, Notacatbuallama, Iron Power, and Orino completing the order of finish.
Red and Black Stable’s Weekend Hideaway relished the muddy and sealed track as he kicked off the day’s stakes action in the $200,000 Commentator, romping to his second straight victory of the year. Trained by Phil Serpe and ridden by Luis Saez, Weekend Hideaway led every step of the one-mile contest, leading the field of five through an opening quarter-mile in 23.18 seconds and a half in 45.56.
The 6-year-old Speightstown horse opened up in the stretch and, despite drifting out into the lane, held clear to win by 3 ¾ lengths over the favored Royal Posse.
Closing out 2015 with a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream Park last November, Weekend Hideaway returned from a four-month layoff with a drawn-off 2 ¼ length win in the six-furlong Affirmed Success for New York-breds on April 29 at Belmont Park.
“It’s always great to have a fresh horse,” said Serpe. “He’s come back strong. He’s a grown-up horse now; a good-and-sound horse and that’s always good to have in the barn.
“The mile is a test for him,” he continued. “He was finishing but he was drifting out. He was getting a little tired. I hate to ruin everyone’s Memorial Day, but I was very happy that this rain came along.”
Weekend Hideaway returned $9.80 on a $2 win wager. The final time was 1:35. 95. Eye Luv Lulu, Bellamy Way and Sioux completed the order of finish. Drama King and Ostolenka were scratched.
In the $200,000 Critical Eye for fillies and mares 3-and-up, 3-2 post-time favorite Bar of Gold broke from the rail with Junior Alvarado in the irons to comfortably stalk Perfect Freud from third position as the leader set fractions of 22.23 seconds for the opening quarter-mile with a half going in 44.83.
Nearing the quarter-pole, Bar of Gold was sent toward the leader with an opening toward the rail and extended away in the stretch to move past her rivals securing the victory by 1 ½ lengths. Her winning time for the one-mile distance was 1:36.83.
Earning her first victory since last facing New York-breds in an optional claiming race at Aqueduct Racetrack last April, the 4-year-old John Kimmel trainee and daughter of Medaglia d’Oro boosted her career earnings to $509,500 for owners Chester and Mary Broman.
Bust Another rallied to take the lead near the eighth pole and posted a 3 1/4-length victory in the $125,000 Mike Lee for 3-year-olds. The 19-1 choice took the lead near the stretch and held off the eight-horse field in the seven-furlong race to record a winning time of 1:23.94.
Bust Another won for the second time in three starts. The Michael Pino-trained bay gelding, who never started a race longer than 6 ½ furlongs, came in from four-wide near the top of the stretch on the muddy and sealed track to win his Belmont Park debut.
Bust Another returned $41.40 for a $2 win wager and improved to 5-1-0 in eight career starts. Owner Scott Zimmerman, of Bing Cherry Racing, said Bust Another will likely start again in Saratoga this summer.
Sudden Surprise, leaving from the inside post position, started strong in leading at the quarter and half-mile marks, setting fractions of 22.05 and 44.86 seconds before fading. Mind Your Biscuits, who was also 20-1 on the morning line, came in second to finish in the money for the sixth time in seven starts.
Championofthenile, Taoiseach, Vincento, Cards of Stone, Sudden Surprise and Lucky Lurie completed the order of finish.
Flatterywillgetyou reached the winner’s circle for a fourth consecutive time by surging to a one-length victory in the $125,000 Bouwerie for 3-year-old fillies.
The Linda Rice-trained chestnut improved to 4-0-1 in five career starts by hitting the wire in 1:23.42 to pace a field of eight.
The seven-furlong Bouwerie was the longest race of Flatterywillgetyou’s career. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez, who has been in the irons for her last three wins, said she improves with every race.
Flatterywillgetyou took the lead by a head at the half-mile mark and led the rest of the way, setting fractions of 46.42 and 1:10.80 before holding off Absatootly at the wire. She returned $9.90 for a $2 win wager and improved her career earnings to $268,900.
Wonderment, Frost Margarita, Bag of Tricks, Super Allison, Langfirst and Gregorian Gold completed the order of finish.
The Tea Cups capped off the holiday card’s excitement in the $125,000 Mount Vernon, closing with a fury on the grass to get a half-length over Invading Humor and make her first race since October a successful one.
Under Luis Saez, The Tea Cups settled at the back of the field, the 6-year-old Hard Spun mare revved up in the middle of the far turn, eventually running down her rival and holding off the favored Neck of the Moon, who rallied through the middle of the lane to finish a close third.
“We were a little off the pace, but I knew when I asked her she was going to respond,” Saez of his second stakes win of the day. “She was flying in the stretch. I knew I had a lot of horse and when I came into the stretch, I asked her and she responded.”
Completing a mile on the Widener turf in 1:36.40, The Tea Cups, making her first trip to the winner’s circle since taking the Yaddo by a length last summer at Saratoga Race Course, returned $16.00 for a $2 win wager.
Selenite checked in fourth, followed by Lady Kreesa, Freudie Anne, Old Harbor, Jc’s Shooting Star, Mah Jong Maddnes, Miss Matzoball, Summersault and Isabelle to round out the order of finish. Distorted Beauty, My Kinda Gal and Swear by It were scratched.