ELMONT, NY – Amerman Racing’s Oscar Performance relished the firm turf and went gate-to-wire to capture the Grade 3, $200,000 Pennine Ridge on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Oscar Performance won for the first time as a 3-year-old, breaking well from post 6 and setting sensible early fractions of :24.43 and :49.92.
Jockey Jose Ortiz piloted Oscar Performance close to the rail out of the far turn, where he outkicked the field in the stretch, including favorite Good Samaritan, to complete the 1 1/8-mile inner turf course in 1:48.44, winning by 1 1/2 lengths.
“He’s back,” said Ortiz, who registered his third win of the day. “The last couple of races, he was breaking bad, and today, he broke a little slow, but I was able to get him going early a little better today. I’m glad where we were, and I think the soft ground in Kentucky was hurting him. Thankfully, we got firm turf today, and he showed up.”
Off at 7-2, Oscar Performance notched his fourth win in seven career starts, his first since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November at Santa Anita. Trained by Brian Lynch, the son of Kitten’s Joy improved his career earnings to $847,632.
“I’m thrilled to see him back in action,” Lynch said. “You’re always worried about being a one-trick pony as a 2-year-old and the Juvenile Turf curse, but he had been training so solidly in between, I’ve just got to put it down to the soft turf courses in Kentucky. He certainly liked it today, he relaxed lovely. I think he got some relatively kind fractions that, if he was back to his best, he was going to quicken off them, and he did. I think he really finished nice.”
Oscar Performance, who ran five previous times at 1 1/16 miles, will now target the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby on July 8.
“He got the mile and an 1/8 today, and there’s no reason to say that he won’t get the mile and a 1/4,” Lynch said. “He was very comfortable, he saddled well, he handled everything. As a 2-year-old, he had the tendency to get a little bit hot, but he was calm and settled today. I thought he rated very kindly, and he had a really great turn of foot when (Ortiz) called on him.”
Good Samaritan, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, came off the pace to finish second. Ticonderoga, for trainer Chad Brown, was third. Bowies Hero, Muggsamatic, Makarios, and Secretary At War completed the order of finish. Prize Fight and Bonus Points were scratched.
Oscar Performance returned $9.80, $4.50, and $3. Good Samaritan brought back $2.50 and $2.10, while Ticonderoga paid $2.50 to show.