OZONE PARK, NY – Post-time favorite Send It In stayed just off the speed and made a late run to overtake Tu Brutus in the deep stretch, winning his graded stakes debut in the 105th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior for 4-year-olds and up on Saturday.
Hall-of-Fame rider John Velazquez kept the New York-bred off of Tu Brutus’ early fractions of 23.40 and 47.20 as Bellamy Way trailed right behind. Send It In closed in out of the final turn, gained ground in the final 1/16 of a mile, and procured the lead in the final furlong, outkicking Tu Brutus for a 1/2-length win, completing 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.07.
“We broke well, better than last time, and we got a nice position going into that first turn,” said Velazquez, who became a five-time Excelsior winner, adding to his winner’s circle trips in 1994, 1996, and 2003-04. “Down the backstretch, I got the position that I wanted. I didn’t want to leave that horse too far in front and give my horse too much to make up, so I got busy on him at the 3/8 pole. Once he got into the lane, he had a nice kick. That kick was very good. It was just what I needed then.”
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 5-year-old homebred son of Big Brown won his first-ever start at the Excelsior distance. He also continued his consistent efforts at the Big A, improving to 7-2-2 in 12 career starts and increasing his career earnings to $500,914. Pletcher notched his third Excelsior victory after winning previously with Magna Graduate in 2007 and West Virginia in 2006.
“He’s a beautiful homebred,” owner Paul Pompa, Jr., said. “He wanted it today and he’s a grinder. It’s very nice to have a New York-bred who is now a Grade 3 winner. He’s by the horse I had who won the Kentucky Derby, Big Brown. I used some of my breeding rights to Big Brown and I got this horse. This is the second time he’s chased down the loose speed, he just wants to win. One day, it’s going to be a little easier for him because somebody’s going to go with the loose speed. That’s what we were hoping for today, but everybody took back.”
Tu Brutus, trained by Gary Contessa, broke alertly with jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., in his North American debut. The Chilean-bred 5-year-old, who was making his first start since December 3, arrived in New York as a winner of stakes overseas, including the 2015 Group 3 Alfredo L.S. Jackson, and earned runner-up honors in his first graded stakes race.
“He broke a little aggressive out of there, so I just tried to relax him,” Ortiz said. “He went a little fast the first part. I tried to hold him on the backside and he came back to me. Then he gave me something at the end, barely got beat.”
Doyouknowsomething, trained by A.C. Avila, took third to finish in the money in a graded stakes for the first time. Hereditary, Discreet Lover, Admiral Blue, and Bellamy Way completed the order of finish.
Send It In returned $4.10, $2.90, and $2.30. Tu Brutus brought back $6.30 and $3.50, while Doyouknowsomething paid $2.60 to show.