ELMONT, NY – Jeff Drown and Don Rachel’s Structor took a big step forward in his second career start, closely stalking before taking over and holding sway late to win Saturday’s $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 7 at 5/2 odds under Irad Ortiz,Jr., Structor raced three-wide early behind the leader Tuggle and second-place Maxwell Esquire. The field raced down the backstretch while Tuggle posted opening fractions of :23.77, :47.23, and 1:11.53.
Sidling up alongside Tuggle and Maxwell Esquire in the far turn, Structor completed a wide turn for home with a slight advantage. On a lone lead with a furlong to run, Structor dug in late to withstand an inside bid from Andesite for the win. The Chad Brown trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm outer turf course in a final time of 1:41.46.
“I didn’t want to go that wide, but I didn’t have any other option,” said Ortiz, Jr. “If I wanted to drop in some more, I would have to keep taking him back, and I didn’t want to do that.”
After tracking the lead duo from the rail for much of the race, Andesite was stuck behind horses until the 3/16 pole. Once he found running room, he surged but just ran out of time, crossing a head behind the winner in second. Our Country closed from last to take third by a 1/2-length over Famished, with the 2/1 favorite No Word just another 1/2-length behind them in fifth. Maxwell Esquire weakened to sixth ahead of No Lime, with The Gray Blur and a spent Tuggle completing the order of finish.
Structor’s win was his second in as many starts, having broken his maiden on August 31 while going 1 1/16 miles over the Saratoga inner turf course. The 2-year-old son of Palace Malice, purchased for $850,000 back in March, has now earned $159,500 and is likely headed to the mile-long Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) for his next start.
“I was proud of this horse, (knowing) how wide he had to travel the whole way,” Brown said. “No fault of the jockey, just his post and the way some horses wedged their way in there early. He gutted it out. This was a solid pace, 47 and change traveling three-deep into the turn. To have enough to gut it out, I think he wouldn’t mind a cutback to a mile at all in the Breeders’ Cup. He’s an improving horse.”
Structor returned $7 to win, $4.50 to place, and $2.80 to show. Andesite brought back $9.60 to place and $4.80 to show, while Our Country paid $3.70 to show.