ELMONT, NY. – Cutting the corner under jockey Joe Bravo, A. P. Indian zoomed past favored Private Zone at the top of the stretch and held off a game Marking to win the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship and bring down the curtain on Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Festival at Belmont Park.
Settling in fourth along the inside as Private Zone led through brisk fractions of 22.66 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.33 for the half, A. P. Indian began moving into position on the turn and was full of run when prompted at the quarter-pole, surging past Private Zone, Marking and Ready for Rye to take the lead at the top of the stretch. While Private Zone began to flag, Marking refused to yield and battled back through the final yards to come within a head of the winner, who completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.41.
“Horses like this make our job so easy,” said Bravo. “He breaks from the gate with control, relaxes, turns off and breathes underneath me so comfortably that all you have to know is when to pull the trigger. He really opened up beautifully turning for home and made me look good.”
Sent off at 5-1, A. P. Indian returned $13.80 for a $2 win bet as he extended his record to 8-4-0 from 14 starts and his earnings to $527,434 for Green Lantern Stables. The victory was his third straight, having taken the Donald LeVine Memorial on June 18 at Parx Racing and the Decathalon on May 14 at Monmouth Park via disqualification, and first in a graded stake.
“We thought about coming to run in this race last year but he ran into some minor issues and we couldn’t make it,” said winning trainer Arnaud Delacour by telephone. “He’s come back very well this year. I usually leave the options open to the rider and Joe did a great job keeping him covered up and he extended away in the stretch.”
Finishing third behind Marking was Ready for Rye, with last year’s Sprint Champion Private Zone settling for fourth. Green Gratto checked in fifth, followed by Nubin Ridge and Roxbury N Overton. Anchor Down and Joking were scratched.