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TORONTO, ON – NK Racing and LNJ Foxwoods’ Belichick denied his Josie Carroll stablemate Mighty Heart‘s bid for a Triple Crown sweep with a dominating score to break his maiden in Saturday’s $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine.
The Breeders’ Stakes is the third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. Mighty Heart had previously captured the Queen’s Plate Stakes (where Belichick finished second) and the Prince of Wales Stakes.
Belichick was the 3/1 third choice as he broke from post 9 under Luis Contreras and settled into a mid-pack stalking position while racing outside of rivals.
Mighty Heart, the even-money favorite, went straight to the front but came under immediate pressure from 101/1 longshot Kunal, who pushed him hard through opening fractions of :23.69, :47.45, 1:13.02, and 1:40.71.
Kunal threw in the towel before heading into the far turn, but his hard work had done its job of softening the favorite, who came under fire midway through cornering and was quickly swallowed up.
Belichick used a three-wide move in the far turn to become the first to surpass the pacesetter, then straightened for home with a widening advantage.
Drawing off with ease, Belichick crossed 4 lengths must the best while completing the 1 1/2-mile firm outer turf route in 2:32.51.
“They kind of broke early in the race, so I just tried to see them and relax my horse as much as I can,” Contreras said. “He was very uncomfortable; this horse has a different style to run, so I just let him be happy wherever he wants to be. Turning for home, I was just in hand all the way to the 1/4 pole, and when I asked him to run from the stretch home, he did. I was just watching, just feeling my horse at the same time, and he was doing great the whole way. He came into this race very ready, good thing for Josie and all the crew.”
The 54/1 longshot Meyer, who shares the same owner as Kunal, rallied to take second by 3 lengths over English Conqueror, himself a 1/2-length ahead of Deviant for third.
Clayton, Enchant Me, Mighty Heart, Muskoka Giant, Told It All, Glorious Tribute, and an eased Kunal completed the order of finish.
Olliemyboy was scratched from the field restricted to Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds.
“Today he broke good and I didn’t plan on going to the front,” said Mighty Heart jockey Daisuke Fukumoto. “He was sharp, like in the Queen’s Plate. I tried to take hold and he relaxed a little bit in the backstretch, but with the mile and 1/2, you need the stamina. I think he just got tired. He tried hard today, I tried to take hold, but that’s racing.”
Belichick’s win followed back-to-back runner-up efforts (including the Queen’s Plate last time out) and improved his overall record to 4-1-2-1. The Lemon Drop Kid colt, purchased for $300,000 as a yearling, has now earned $357,666.
“I’ve said from the very start that Belichick is a very, very special horse that’s just coming into his own, and I think he showed that today,” Carroll said. “He’s a powerful horse. The Queen’s Plate was a breakout race for him and we couldn’t come back that quickly in the Prince of Wales. A horse needs a little time to regroup from something like that, a young, inexperienced horse, and regroup he did.”
Belichick returned $8.70 to win, $5 to place, and $3.40 to show. Meyer brought back $30.70 to place and $15.60 to show, while English Conqueror paid $5.30 to show.
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