ELMONT, NY – Nicodemus sat off the early pace and made a huge late run to win Saturday’s Westchester Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park. This was the third career win and first stakes win for the three-year-old son of Candy Ride.
Stan the Man Broke well from the four post and went straight to the lead. Hoffenheim also broke well and joined the leader on the front but Stan the Man reclaimed the lead and put about a length between himself and Hoffenheim. Meanwhile, Nicodemus sat back behind the leaders just in front of the pair of Bandua and Prince Lucky while Stan the Man set fractions of :23.08 and :45.45.
Into the turn, Stan the Man stayed on the lead while Nicodemus and Prince Lucky moved up to join Hoffenheim around the turn. Nicodemus continued on past Hoffenheim and motored toward the front to pull even with Stan the Man. Sunny Ridge came from the back of the pack, cut in along the rail, and looked loaded to make a big run for first but didn’t have enough in the tank and settled for third. In the final stride, Nicodemus got up past Stan the Man to win by a Neck. Hoffenheim held on for fourth.
“I was a little teeny bit worried about being too close,” said jockey Michael Luzzi. “Just not knowing the horse and watching his other races and the advice that Linda gave me, I thought there would be one or two other horses in front of me. He placed himself there and I wasn’t going to take it away from him. I was pretty confident turning for home.”
“This was a nice win. Luzzi did a good job and put him in a nice spot. It’s nice to pick up this graded stakes win following an effort like that,” said trainer Linda Rice. “I was telling the owners that I thought he’d be better at one-turn and that turned out to be the case today. We’ll certainly enjoy this win before planning where we’ll want to run next.”
Nicodemus returned $18.60 to win, $6.80 to place, and $4.00 to show. Stan the Man brought back $5.30 to place and $3.60 to show, while Sunny Ridge paid $3.30 to show.