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ELMONT, NY – LECH Racing’s Great Britain native Baron Samedi invaded the colonies and lorded over the American paupers who dared face him in Friday’s $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.
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Making his North American racing debut, Baron Samedi broke from post 8 under John Velazquez as the 6/5 favorite in the field of nine older males traveling a marathon 2-mile distance over the yielding outer turf course.
So High spurted out to a lengthy lead for the opening mile before Conviction Trade began applying pressure shortly thereafter as Baron Samedi continued to race off the pace.
Given the green light near the 3/8 pole, Baron Samedi tipped out to run three-wide at the top of the stretch and rallied his way to the lead with 1/8 of a mile remaining.
The Joseph O’Brien trainee crossed 2 3/4 lengths the best, stopping the clock in 3:27.30.
“This horse just doesn’t get tired, he just keeps coming and coming, but I had to ride him because he’s kind of slow-paced,” Velazquez said. “He’s a grinder; just keeps coming and coming. I didn’t want to end up being a little too soon, so I thought I’d better just keep him going. He did everything good. Once we got to the 3/8 pole, I was riding him and getting to where I wanted to be, and he gave me a good feeling from then on. The course was very soft, but he handled it well. No complaints.”
The all-international exacta included Argentinian-bred Fantasioso, who rallied from the rear to take second by 1 length over Ajourneytofreedom.
Kinenos, So High, Ziyad, Conviction Trade, Strong Tide, and Tide of the Sea completed the order of finish.
Baron Samedi’s win was his seventh straight from 12 career starts and third at the group/graded stakes level, including April’s 1 3/4-mile Vintage Crop (G2) last time out in his 2021 debut. The 4-year-old Harbour Watch gelding, purchased for $4,902 as a weanling, has now earned $372,757.
“Baron Samedi is a very good horse and Johnny gave him a great ride,” O’Brien said. “He hadn’t been that far before, but he had handled that kind of track before, so we weren’t worried about the rain. We just worried about them taking the race off the turf. I’m very proud of our team and a big thanks to the owners for allowing us to do this.”
Baron Samedi returned $4.60 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.50 to show. Fantasioso brought back $6.10 to place and $5.30 to show. Ajourneytofreedom paid $4 to show.
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