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SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Jockey Jose Lezcano’s perfectly-timed ride put the Allen Stable homebred North Dakota into the graded stakes winner’s circle for the first time in Saturday’s $100,000 Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct.
Breaking from post 5 under Jose Lezcano as the 8/1 sixth choice on the tote, North Dakota settled into a ground-saving trip while settling into a mid-pack position.
Real Factor shot out to an early lead the size of a country mile before posting fractions of :24.67, :48.79, 1:13.68, and 1:38.49 through the opening mile.
His sizeable advantage disappeared as Real Factor rounded the far turn for the final time, and Ziyad took first run at him before getting the lead near the 1/8 pole.
Behind them, Lezcano tipped North Dakota out and sent him between Red Knight and Doctor Mounty in the middle of the lane to make a sustained push to the front.
Taking over in the final jumps, the Shug McGaughey trainee crossed a 1/2-length clear while completing the 1 3/8-mile firm inner turf route in 2:16.47.
“I tried to give him a clean trip the whole way and not lose any momentum,” Lezcano said. “He progressed. Every pole was progress. As soon as he got to the 3/8 pole, he switched gears. I hit him a couple times and he really took off and went on with it and won the race. I think he’s a very nice horse. He’s kind of one-paced, but the longer he can go, the better for him.”
Red Knight headed Ziyad for second, while the rallying 9/5 favorite and defending race champion Sadler’s Joy ran out of time and could only neck out fourth over Doctor Mounty.
Aquaphobia, Postulation, Real Factor, Tintoretto, Fame to Famous, and Changi completed the order of finish.
North Dakota’s win was an improvement over his fourth-place finish in the Sycamore (G3) last time out, his debut at the stakes level that was won by Red Knight. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt improved his record to 12-4-1-2 with $157,325 earned.
“He’s come a long way,” McGaughey said of the late-blooming half brother to elite American turf sire War Front. “I wouldn’t have thought he would be running in the Red Smith back when he broke his maiden at Tampa (on March 25 this year). He’s been up here from Fair Hill. He had been training really well. I thought he had a big chance today. He’s got the pedigree to do it and wants a distance of ground. Jose is a patient guy and I said, ‘Just take your time with him,’ and that’s what he did and it worked out for him.”
North Dakota returned $19.40 to win, $7.40 to place, and $5.20 to show. Red Knight brought back $4.50 to place and $3.20 to show, while Ziyad paid $3.90 to show.
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