ELMONT, NY – Breeze Easy’s Four Wheel Drive proved too strong for his five foes, sweeping to the lead in the stretch and drawing off with ease to win Sunday’s $150,000 Futurity Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.
The Futurity is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Four Wheel Drive receiving an automatic berth in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking from post 4 as the 4/5 favorite under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Four Wheel Drive initially held command out of the gate, but Jack and Noah quickly took it away from him along the outside. Bursting to a multiple-length lead, Jack and Noah set opening fractions of :21.62 and :44.33.
Midway through the far turn, despite being a handful of lengths in second behind a loose leader, a confident Ortiz, Jr., peeked back to make sure nobody was ranging up on him. Straightening for home, Four Wheel Drive tipped out and easily swung past Jack and Noah to retake the lead.
Under only mild urging in the stretch, the Wesley Ward-trained Four Wheel Drive crossed 3 lengths clear to win the 6-furlong sprint over the firm outer turf course in a final time of 1:08.07.
“I worked him before this race and I put him behind horses,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He always worked good like that and relaxed. When I asked him, he would take off like an older horse. He has a good mind. So (today), I didn’t panic. I just let him break wherever he is comfortable and then go from there because I know he didn’t have to be on the lead. He relaxed well, and when I asked, he turned on.”
Freewheeler got up for second by a 1/2-length over Embolden, with Jack and Noah a nose behind in fourth. Another Miracle was a 1/2-length back for fifth, while Tomato Bill completed the order of finish.
Four Wheel Drive’s win was his second in as many starts, having won the 5 1/2-furlong Rosie’s Stakes over the Colonial Downs turf on August 31. The 2-year-old son of the 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah has now earned $142,500.
“Hopefully, he comes out of the race well,” said Mike Hall, co-owner of Breeze Easy. “It will be our first Breeders’ Cup starter. We had Shang Shang Shang last year, but he came up a little off the day of the race, so hopefully this one makes the dream come true. The plan was for him to just sit chilly. Irad knew he had a lot of horse. He just made his move when he needed to.”
Four Wheel Drive returned $3.90 to win, $2.90 to place, and $2.30 to show. Freewheeler brought back $4.90 to place and $3 to show, while Embolden paid $2.90 to show.