ELMONT, NY – Winless in four starts since finishing fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs, Robert Baron’s Promises Fulfilled put forth a powerful gate-to-wire performance in Saturday’s $300,000 John A. Nerud Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.
The John A. Nerud is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Promises Fulfilled receiving an automatic berth in the Sprint at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, November 2.
Breaking from the far outside post 9 under Luis Saez as the 3/5 favorite, Promises Fulfilled was gifted an uncontested lead after Killybegs Captain stumbled badly out of the gate. Left to his own devices up front, Promises Fulfilled strolled leisurely through opening fractions of :23.16 and :46.09.
Midway through the far turn, Warrior’s Club and a recovered Killybegs Captain launched two- and three-wide bids for the lead, but Saez soon put Promises Fulfilled to a drive. Despite Killybegs Captain’s determined effort in the stretch, he was unable to catch the bettors’ choice. Promises Fulfilled crossed with a 4 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:21.75 for the 7-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“He broke so sharp,” Saez said. “He always breaks sharp. The last time, he missed the break, but today, he broke so clean, he was right there. When he came to the stretch and he switched leads, he was running. I still had a lot of horse. It’s very hot today. He got a little tired when he crossed the wire, but that’s normal.”
Warrior’s Club necked out second over Killybegs Captain, who faded after making his failed stretch bid. Nicodemus was a neck ahead of Bon Raison in fourth, while Do Share and New York Central completed the order of finish.
After crossing the wire, jockey Jose Ortiz pulled up Nicodemus, who was soon vanned off. Initial reports indicated that it may have been a precautionary measure due to how Nicodemus was reacting to the heat.
Majestic Dunhill and Pat On the Back were listed as trainer scratches.
Promises Fulfilled’s win was his first since last summer’s three straight graded stakes win streak that culminated in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In that gave him an automatic berth in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The 4-year-old son of Shackleford improved is career mark to 15-7-0-3 with $1,437,280 earned.
“Shackleford was one of a kind,” said Romans, who also trained the 2011 Preakness Stakes winner. “He’s a lot kinder than Shack was. He was a great and smart horse. (Promises Fulfilled) is smart, too, but he’s nicer.”
Promises Fulfilled returned $3.30 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.30 to show. Warrior’s Club brought back $5.10 to place and $3.40 to show, while Killybegs Captain paid $6.50 to show.