SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Oak Bluff Stables’ Therapist sat well off the pace and displayed a devastating turn-of-foot down the lane to secure a neck win in scoring his eighth stakes victory in Saturday’s sixth running of the $100,000 Artie Schiller going 1 mile over the good inner turf at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Never worse than fourth in his last dozen starts, the New York-bred 5-year-old son of Freud notched his sixth stakes win against open company, scoring at such caliber in each of his years in training, dating back to his 2-year-old year in 2017, where he won the Laurel Futurity at Laurel Park and the Awad at Belmont Park.
In the money in all 5 of his starts this season, Therapist arrived at the Artie Schiller off a runner-up effort to graded stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown in the Mohawk on October 24, part of Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 8 under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, Therapist was angled to the two-path at the back of the pack as New York-bred multiple restricted stakes winner Rinaldi led the field into the first turn through an opening 1/4-mile in 24.43 seconds and the 1/2 in 48.50, with Grade 1 winner Valid Point tracking in second.
Castellano nudged his charge around the far turn racing 5 lengths behind Rinaldi, who maintained his advantage as the field hit the top of the stretch. Castellano angled Therapist four-wide and found a seam in between runners and began making up significant ground.
Rinaldi was then confronted by Chad Brown trainees Valid Point and Delaware in the final 1/16, but Therapist’s turn of foot was too good for them as he was first on the wire in the nick of time, stopping the clock in 1:37.16. Valid Point finished second, a head in front of Delaware.
Rounding out the field were Rinaldi, Clear Vision, Ninety One Assault, Hawkish, and Ballagh Rocks.
Hembree and main track only entrants Backsideofthemoon, Sea Foam, Chilly In Charge, and Compound It were scratched.
Returning $8.30 as the lukewarm favorite, Therapist upped his lifetime earnings to $653,345 through a record of 21-9-2-5, having won at 5 different tracks.
Trainer Christophe Clement, who also bred Therapist in partnership with the owner, expressed a strong sense of pride in conditioning such a consistent state-bred.
“He’s the perfect advertisement for the New York bred program; he’s very consistent and can win at a high level against open company,” Clement said. “I think he’s a very honest horse. He’s a lovely horse and I’m lucky to train him. I’m the co-breeder, alongside the owner, Mr. Richard Leahy (of Oak Bluff Sables).”
Castellano climbed aboard Therapist for the first time on Saturday afternoon, but said that he had been observing the horse from afar.
“I’ve been watching this horse and following his races,” Castellano said. “He’s the type of horse that likes to come from behind and can’t be too close to the pace or he’ll hang. Today, it worked out perfect. I had an outside post and saved all the ground and he finished really strong. I like the way he finished today.”
Patience was key for Castellano, who said the strategy was to save ground and roll home late.
“This time, I took my time,” Castellano said. “A few horses had the speed, so I had to do the best I could to save ground on the first turn. Even out of the last turn, I was feeling really good and was watching (and waiting) for the hole. It paid off.”
Clement did not rule out one more 2020 start for Therapist.
“Therapist has been very good to us over the years. He might go for one more race this year or he could wait until next year,” Clement said. “I haven’t decided yet, but we’ll see how he comes out of the race.”