ELMONT, NY – August Dawn Farm’s Forty Under drove hard in the stretch to take command late and prevail for the W in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 2 under Manny Franco at 4/1 odds, Forty Under settled along the rail in mid-pack while Ole Mole set opening fractions of :23.97 and :48.84. After entering the far turn in second, Somelikeithotbrown drew up alongside Ole Mole and soon passed him to take the lead while Forty Under was stuck in traffic. Swinging four-wide off the far turn, Forty Under dug in and raced past Social Paranoia before collaring Somelikeithotbrown in the final 1/16. Continuing to fight on strongly, the Jeremiah Englehart trainee inched away in the shadow of the wire before winning by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 1:44.37 for the 8 1/2-furlong event over the yielding inner turf course.
“I expected to be closer to the pace, but the horse broke a step slow, so I used plan B: stay inside, save some ground, and wait for the moment,” Franco said. “He’s a different horse on turf. He loves it. (After his debut race on dirt) I told the trainer, put him on the grass. That’s what we did, and he won at Saratoga.”
Somelikeithotbrown was clear of Social Paranoia by 2 lengths at the wire, while the 8/5 favorite Opry failed to fire and finished a disappointing fourth. Spirit Animal stumbled at the start and nearly lost rider Jose Ortiz before falling behind by over 12 lengths, but he was able to recover and run hard late to finish fifth over Dashing Dan and Vineyard Sound. Completing the order of finish came Rhythm With Soul, Ole Mole, and Pipes, while Casa Creed was scratched.
Forty Under’s win was his second straight following his maiden-breaking win at Saratoga over this same distance for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. The juvenile son of Uncle Mo, purchased as a yearling for $180,000, now carries a record of 3-2-0-0 with earnings of $157,386.
“One advantage he has even on the softer turf, he’s not a real big, thick horse,” Englehart said. “He’s slender, good size, but still pretty sleek, not a big horse. He’s a nice horse. It was nice because in a maiden race, it’s always a pretty big advantage sometimes to be in the clear. Even on the turf, you want to be in that first tier (because) you don’t know how they’re going to handle everything in the back. We were going to be forwardly placed. We had the inside from where we were, (but) you want to be out and you don’t want to be shuffled back. He backed him off the horse and Manny made the right adjustments to win the race.”
Forty Under returned $10.80 to win, $5.70 to place, and $4.20 to show. Somelikeithotbrown brought back $5.50 to place and $4.20 to show, while Social Paranoia paid $4.50 to show.