OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Lightly raced, yet enormously talented, Centennial Farms’ Unified remained unbeaten in two starts after winning the Grade 3, $300,000 Bay Shore Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Racing as the 6-5 favorite in the six-horse field of 3-year-olds, the speedy son of Candy Ride was in front shortly after the break in the seven-furlong Bay Shore. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Unified carved out lively fractions of :22.65, :45.88, and 1:10.34, en route to a three-length victory over the muddy and sealed main track. The final time was 1:22.86.
The 10-1 King Kranz, who chased Unified from second position throughout, was the runner-up, finishing eight lengths in front of Cocked and Loaded. The order of finish was completed by the 9-5 second choice, Awesome Gent, Richie the Bull, and Sallisaw.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Unified was making just his second start after a scintillating maiden win at Gulfstream Park in February, where he rocketed out of the gate.
“I saw he wasn’t on the lead [today] but he was close,” Jerkens said. “He broke stupidly sharp last time, which horses never do, and I didn’t expect him [to do that again], but he got the lead easy enough, though the first quarter was bit quick. When I saw King Kranz’s jockey scrubbing on him in the middle of the turn, I felt pretty confident.
“We never shy away [from stretching them out], but we don’t believe in going from six furlongs to two-turn races, unless it’s a special circumstance you don’t run into too often,” the trainer added. “It’s always good to develop them in increments.”
The Bay Shore represented Ortiz’s third win on Saturday’s card. The rider said Unified did not break perfectly, but he was able to secure a good position quickly.
“I was in good position and Jimmy told me to wait until they come to him,” said Ortiz. “I waited until the quarter pole and when I asked him to go he flew. When I asked him to go at the quarter pole, I knew if he kept going at that pace he was going to win. I think he is really, really nice. Now he’s got two races that prove that. The horses with five or six races under their belts – he with just one race – he beat them.”
Bred in Kentucky by Blue Devil Racing Stable, Centennial Farms purchased Unified as a yearling for $325,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga sale.