ELMONT, NY – Bridlewood Farm and Coolmore’s Marconi continued his dirt marathon distance-race dominance on Saturday when he took the field wire to wire in the $300,000 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park.
Brushing the gate as he broke from post 7 under Jose Lezcano as the 7/5 favorite, Marconi recovered and hustled up to secure command heading into the clubhouse turn. Unpressured as he set the pace, Marconi posted fractions of :25.23, :50.51, 1:15.82, and 1:40.15 for the opening mile.
Near the top of the stretch, Lezcano peeked back to make sure nobody was coming, then let loose on the reins. Marconi responded by drawing off convincingly in the stretch.
His Todd Pletcher stablemate You’re to Blame gave closest chase, but it was all Marconi in the end. He crossed 3 lengths clear in a final time of 2:28.07 for the 1 1/2-mile event over the fast main track.
“My horse broke a little slow,” Lezcano said. “After that, I had to get him where we wanted to be, towards the front. The horse inside didn’t want to go, so I went to the lead and he stayed the same the whole way around. He got into a good rhythm, and once he got going, he was comfortable.”
Realm necked out defending winner Rocketry for third, while Carlino necked out Roaming Union for fifth to complete the order of finish. Highland Sky and Maraud were scratched.
Marconi’s win was his fourth of the year and his third at Belmont Park, where he also won the Flat Out Stakes and the Brooklyn Invitational Stakes (G2) this year. The 4-year-old son of Tapit improved his record to 12-5-2-1 (including a local mark of 4-3-0-0) with $625,702 earned.
“He seems to like this race course,” said assistant trainer Byron Hughes. “He didn’t break real sharp, but Jose did a good job of getting him up there and getting him in a comfortable rhythm. It wasn’t ideal, but when I saw the first fractions in 25 and change, I got a little more comfortable. He was able to pull away there from the group at the top of the stretch and win nicely.”
Marconi returned $4.90 to win, $3.10 to place, and $2.50 to show. You’re to Blame brought back $4 to place and $2.90 to show, while Realm paid $2.80 to show.