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ELMONT, NY – A trip to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships could be in store for Annapolis (who edged Portfolio Company in the $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes [G2]) and My Sister Nat, who successfully defended her title in the $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Ways Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on Sunday.
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Bass Racing homebred Annapolis outdueled Portfolio Company in a stirring stretch drive to capture the Pilgrim for juveniles going 1 1/16 miles over the firm inner turf.
The Pilgrim has seen three of its last five winners go on to capture the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), including Oscar Performance , Structor , and Fire At Will .
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Annapolis entered out of a stylish debut win on closing weekend at Saratoga Race Course, where he rallied from off the pace under returning rider Irad Ortiz Jr.
Breaking from post 2 in a compact field of four, Annapolis sat second behind pacesetter Portfolio Company, who marked off splits of 24.34 seconds for the 1/4-mile and 48.96 to the 1/2-mile under Joel Rosario.
At the 1/2-mile pole, Ortiz Jr. began to inch Annapolis closer to the leader and the two colts met up at the 1/4 pole after 6 furlongs in 1:14.46.
The front-running duo gained separation from their two competitors – Limited Liability [Jose Ortiz] and Doctor Jeff [Jose Lezcano] – and battled gamely to the wire. Annapolis needed every inch of ground to get by a stubborn Portfolio Company, putting his head on the wire in a final time of 1:41.04.
“With only four horses, there wasn’t much speed in the race,” Ortiz Jr. said, “I just broke well and tried to be close to the pace. I ended up second to the horse I had to try and beat, so I just went from there. He fought the whole way to the wire. The way he did it last time, he looked like a nice horse, so we expected him to move forward and he did.”
Byron Hughes, Pletcher’s Belmont-based assistant, said he was pleased with how the race unfolded.
“He broke well and Irad had him in a great spot on the outside,” Hughes said. “It was a good duel down the stretch and he was able to get a head down at the wire.”
Rosario won five races on Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs, including Grade 3 scores with Knicks Go in the Lukas Classic and aboard Plainsman in the Ack Ack, both for trainer Brad Cox.
The veteran rider said he had no complaints about his trip aboard maiden-winner Portfolio Company, who was exiting a runner-up effort in the With Anticipation (G3) on September 1 at Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown.
“He responded well. The other horse [Annapolis] came to me a little bit early and then I had to just keep moving inside. It was a very good race in the end,” Rosario said. “When he came to me, I had to hold my position. Turning for home, [Annapolis] moved a little early, which engaged me to move forward a little more than I wanted to. You just have to ride them the way the race is playing.”
Annapolis returned $3.30 to win off a $2 wager and increased his lifetime earnings to $165,000.
Limited Liability was third, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Doctor Jeff. Midnight Worker and City of Light were scratched.
A Kentucky homebred, Annapolis is by War Front and out of the graded stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, who was also conditioned by Pletcher.
Peter Brant’s My Sister Nat demonstrated an impressive turn of foot to successfully defend her title in the Fasig-Tipton Waya, an 11-furlong inner turf test for fillies and mares 3 and up that could springboard the classy mare into a return trip to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) after finishing ninth in last year’s finish.
The victory provided her 4-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown with his fifth Waya win and third straight following scores with Goldy Espony , Guapaza , Fools Gold , and My Sister Nat, who won last year’s edition which was contested at 12 furlongs on the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course.
Always Shopping, piloted by Ricardo Santana Jr., broke alertly and led the field through splits of 25.63 seconds, 52.01, and 1:17.52 over the firm turf with Call Me Love tracking in second position outside of a ground-saving Lovely Lucky. My Sister Nat, with Jose Ortiz up, settled comfortably in sixth position in front of stablemate Orglandes, who was squeezed between rivals in the opening jumps and trailed.
Ortiz urged My Sister Nat into contention through the final turn and the filly picked off rivals at a rapid pace with Orglandes following in her wake under Jose’s brother Irad Ortiz Jr.
My Sister Nat made the lead at the stretch call and powered home a comfortable 2 1/2-length winner in a final time of 2:15.37. Orglandes completed the exacta by a neck over a game Always Shopping.
Ortiz said he felt confident throughout while tracking Beautiful Lover through the early stages near the back of the pack.
“In this kind of race they usually go slow,” Ortiz said. “It felt like they went 50 or 51, but I was following who I thought was the right horse, and around the 3/8 pole, I put her in the clear and she gave me such a great feeling. She just was handling the course really well. She gave me a great kick from the 3/8 pole to the wire and she kept running.”
A Group 3 winner at Longchamp in her native France, the 6-year-old Acclamation bay joined Brown’s stable in 2019 but did not secure her first North American win until last year’s Waya.
The ultra-consistent My Sister Nat, who has hit the board in 8 graded stakes starts in North America, entered from a closing third in the Flower Bowl (G1) on September 4 at Saratoga, where she encountered traffic trouble.
Dan Stupp, Brown’s Belmont-based assistant, said he was pleased to see My Sister Nat secure the win.
“She’s a very nice and very honest mare. She’s had a very consistent career. She shows up every time with her run,” Stupp said. “Sometimes, pace dynamics don’t work out in her favor and we get a little unlucky, but Jose always rides her well and she always shows up. It’s nice to see her put in another strong effort.”
Stupp said he was impressed by the effort from Orglandes, last year’s Red Carpet Handicap (G3) winner at Del Mar, who entered from consecutive off-the-board efforts in graded events.
“She won out in California last year. She was one that we always had some high hopes for this year,” Stupp said. “We just got sidetracked with some minor stuff. It’s nice to see her get back on track. We thought she would have a solid campaign and hopefully we can move forward off this race.”
Sister Otoole, Beautiful Lover, Call Me Love, and Lovely Lucky rounded out the order of finish.
Bred in France by Ecurie de Monceaux, My Sister Nat is out of the Galileo mare Starlet’s Sister, who produced 2018 Champion Turf Mare Sistercharlie as well as last year’s Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe-winner Sottsass.
My Sister Nat banked $165,000 in victory and returned $3 on a $2 win wager.
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