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ELMONT, NY – Matthew Schera and Orangella Racing Stable’s Paret dropped a 38/1 bomb while taking the field gate to wire in Thursday’s $80,000 Tiller Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking well from post 9 under Jorge Vargas, Jr., Paret raced outside of Noble Indy heading into the clubhouse turn before moving ahead to take sole possession by the backstretch. Riding comfortably with a lead of slightly more than 1 length, Paret posted opening fractions of :23.90, :49.67, 1:14.68, and 1:38.72.
The field ranged up through the far turn so that by the 1/4 pole, Paret’s lead had evaporated, but Vargas, Jr., remained chilly aboard. Shaken up at the top of the stretch, Paret responded positively and began edging away again from the field.
Dot Matrix loomed the biggest danger off the turn and slowly cut into the gap during the stretch run, but Paret had too much left in his tank and refused to give an inch. Though Dot Matrix fought strongly on his outside, Paret proved game and prevailed at the wire by a head.
The James Lawrence trainee completed the 1 3/8-mile firm turf route in a final time of 2:14.05.
“When he hit the backstretch, he jumped to the right lead and relaxed and came back to me,” said Vargas, Jr., who inherited the mount after the originally-named rider Frankie Pennington did not travel to Belmont Park. “I thought from there I was going to be okay. … I asked him before we hit the turn. I knew it was pretty early, but I wanted to see what I had, and he gave me some. I sat back and waited a little more, and when I asked him to run again, he jumped and was ready to fight.”
The 3/1 favorite Sadler’s Joy rallied wide in the lane from last to secure third, though he was 2 lengths behind the top pair. The bettors’ choice won a six-horse photo-finish cluster that saw Highland Sky, Current, Standard Deviation, Corelli, and Channel Maker all cross within 1 1/4 lengths of the bettors’ choice.
Hayabusa One, Go Poke the Bear, Petit Fils, and a spent Noble Indy completed the order of finish. Focus Group was scratched, as were the two Main Track Only entries Rocketry and Its All Revelant.
Paret’s win was his first since he strung together three straight in 2018 over the Rosehill turf in his native Australia. The Harbour Watch gelding (who unofficially turns 6 in late September due to the Southern Hemisphere breeding season) improved his record to 22-5-2-5 with $306,328 earned globally.
“We’ve been working with this horse, trying to just get him to chill out and turn off, and it obviously worked,” Lawrence said. “What a nice horse; he gets all the credit. … This horse gets turned out at 5 every morning in his own paddock, then we train him a few days a week out back on the hills. He trains primarily on Michael Dickinson’s Tapeta surface and he just thrives on it. We turn him out rain or shine every day and he just loves it.”
Paret returned $78.50 to win, $35.20 to place, and $16.40 to show. Dot Matrix brought back $6.50 to place and $4.40 to show, while Sadler’s Joy paid $3.20 to show.
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