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ELMONT, NY – Susan Quick and Christopher Feifarek’s Beren made up 5 1/2 lengths in the stretch, closing in on Candy Man Rocket with a strong outside move and gaining the edge in the final stride to win Sunday’s $100,000 Gold Fever by a nose in a thrilling finish to the 6-furlong sprint for sophomores at Belmont Park.
The eighth running of the Gold Fever saw Beren earn his first career stakes win in dramatic fashion, running down graded stakes winner Candy Man Rocket under coaxing from jockey Manny Franco in the feature for the 9-race card.
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Beren broke sharp from the inside post, remaining unscathed as Roderick stumbled and unseated rider Joel Rosario coming out of the gate from post 3. Both horse and rider were uninjured, with the outrider picking up Roderick in the gallop out.
American Gentleman led what became a five-horse field through an opening 1/4-mile in 22.79 seconds on the fast main track, with Beren tracking in fourth position. Candy Man Rocket, under Junior Alvarado, overtook American Gentleman at the front with the 1/2 going in 46.07 and maintained the edge into the stretch.
Beren rallied when straightened for home as Franco gave strong left-handed encouragement. The Weigelia colt had plenty in reserve and closed the deficit in the final 1/16 before getting up in time to win the head bob in a final time of 1:11.25.
Beren, fourth last out after stumbling at the start in the 7-furlong Bay Shore (G3) on April 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack, notched his third win in his last 4 starts.
“The class relief helped. He ran with some tough horses in the Bay Shore,” Franco said. “I knew the horse belonged here. I just wanted to make sure he broke better than he did last time. Today, he broke a step slow again, but I put him in the clear and he was comfortable after that.
“He can go 7, but I think the 6 furlongs made the difference today,” he added.
The Pennsylvania homebred made his first 6 starts in his native Quaker State before moving up to graded stakes competition last month by trainer Butch Reid.
“It was nerve-wracking, but Manny did a great job,” Reid said. “He got him straightened out and got him to switch leads and he finished really well.
“I’ve found with these Weigelias that they don’t need to be on the lead and they really like a little bit of moisture in the racetrack,” he added. “I’ve had a lot of them to train and they are all game horses and have done very well for us.”
Beren, off at 3/1, returned $8.60 on a $2 win bet and improved his career earnings to $160,420.
“I love getting that New York money,” Reid said. “There’s nothing quite like it. You know when you come here, you’ve beaten the best. It’s a special treat to come up here and win a race.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott shortened Candy Man Rocket up for his first sprint since being placed on the Triple Crown trail. After winning the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis (G3) in February at Tampa Bay Downs and finishing out of the money in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the Wood Memorial Presented by Resorts World Casino (G2), the Candy Ride colt finished 6 1/2 lengths clear of Doubleoseven for second, earning a placing in his Belmont debut.
“I had a great trip, really no excuses,” Alvarado said. “When we got to the wire, I thought we held on, but I guess we didn’t. He ran great. I think he’ll get better with experience. He’ll probably do his better running going shorter distances.”
The Wolfman and American Gentleman completed the order of finish.
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