ELMONT, NY – Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Homeland Security closely watched the frontrunners early before pouncing late for her first stakes score in Sunday’s $100,000 River Memories Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking well from post 2 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Homeland Security settled in mid-pack while Flower Fashion and Savannah Belle took turns setting splits of :23.80, :49.24, 1:14.29, and 1:38.17 for the opening mile. Slowly advancing down the back stretch, Homeland Security found herself in second as she straightened for home. Tipping out in order to make a bid for the lead, Homeland Security overtook a very game Savannah Belle in the final furlong before crossing with a length advantage in a final time of 2:26.11 for the 1 1/2-mile turf marathon for fillies and mares.
“I just wanted to break out of there and sit comfortable,” said Ortiz, Jr. “It’s a long way around there, a mile and 1/2. When we turned for home, I let her do her thing. She’s good. She can do these (longer distances). She’s an honest filly. She’ll always show up, no matter what.”
Summersault saved ground early but couldn’t muster enough of a kick to overtake Savannah Belle and had to settle for third. Violet Blue took fourth over the 3-1 favorite Estrechada, while Silver Step, Flower Fashion, and Not Taken completed the order of finish.
Homeland Security’s win improved her record to 6-3-0-0, with all victories coming over the Belmont Park grass. The Chad Brown-trained 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike increased her career bankroll to $179,000.
“It was a jump up to stakes company and she delivered,” said Whit Beckman, assistant to Brown. “She’s a bit of an overachiever, but a real tough mare. Coming in, she has the pedigree to think she’d get the route of ground. She’s a really relaxed, easygoing filly. It’s always good when horses can keep themselves calm in these situations. Our plan was to just break out of there, get her in a real comfortable spot, and hopefully, she gets left alone and see what happens.”
Homeland Security returned $10.20 to win, $5.60 to place, and $3.40 to show. Savannah Belle brought back $17.20 to place and $7.10 to show, while Summersault paid $3.70 to show.