ELMONT, NY – Woodford Racing LLC’s Engage employed a powerful drive through the stretch to easily take Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking well under Jose Ortiz from the outside post in the field of five, Engage rated near the rear early while Red Peril set initial fractions of :22.52 and :45.76. Off the far turn, the Chad Brown trainee moved to the outside of Mojovation and jockey John Velazquez to find clear running room and took off with ease, rocketing to the finish line in a final time of 1:10.09 for the 6-furlong main track event.
“(He’s a) really nice horse,” Ortiz said. “The first time he ran, I knew he was a good horse that day, and he came back and won, and last week, he worked tremendous. With the post that I had today, I knew he was going to be tough. When I asked him to go at the 3/16, I got the hole, and I went outside Johnny, he really exploded. He gave me a great turn of foot.”
Barry Lee was 3 1/2 lengths back in second at the wire, with another 4 3/4 lengths to Mojovation. Red Peril and Smooth B completed the order of finish. The race’s lone filly entry, Happy Like A Fool, was scratched because she’s also entered in Sunday’s Grade 3 Matron.
Engage debuted on August 5 at Saratoga, finishing second, then broke his maiden one month later on Saratoga’s Closing Day. A $550,000 purchase in March, the 2-year-old son of Into Mischief has now earned $156,400 with a record of 3-2-1-0 in his young career.
“He’s shown quite a bit of improvement in each of his starts,” Brown said. “I was telling his owners in the paddock how much he’s filled out since his last race. This horse is in a growth spurt right now, and I like the face we’ve kept him sprinting for now. Hopefully, he continues to develop physically and we’ll stretch him out as we go. We’ll see how he develops.”
Engage returned $3.10 to win, $2.30 to place, and $2.10 to show. Barry Lee brought back $3.20 to place and $2.30 to show, while Mojovation paid $2.10 to show.