ELMONT, NY – Ara Aprahamian’s Uncle Benny and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., waited until the perfect moment to strike before launching a furious rally down the stretch to win Sunday’s $150,000 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Futurity is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Uncle Benny receiving an automatic berth in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 2.
Breaking from post 11 at 5/1 odds, Uncle Benny was taken back after Swamp Rat broke out dangerously from the inside. Once he recovered, Uncle Benny settled at the rear while Joyful Heart led through opening fractions of :22.46 and :46.30. Tipping out to run five-wide in the far turn, Uncle Benny was given his cue at the top of the stretch and proceeded to run along the far outside of every foe with fervor. Collaring the new leader Dragic inside the final 1/2-furlong, Uncle Benny took command and finished strongly through to the wire, crossing with a 1/2-length advantage over the 50/1 upset-minded Backtohisroots. The Jason Servis trainee’s final time for the 6-furlong sprint over the good turf course was 1:11.26.
“It’s always exciting with a ‘Win and You’re In,'” said Ortiz, Jr. “I’m just so happy for Jason Servis, it’s been such a good year for him. He’s a nice horse. It was the first time I rode him. We had the outside post and he broke a step slow. I didn’t want to rush him out of there; he’s a baby. They ran away from and I just dropped in. I didn’t panic. I waited, and when I made the run on the outside, he took off.”
Caught late, the 3/1 favorite Dragic took third, still well ahead of her Wesley Ward stablemate Fayette Warrior and Bizzee Channel. Sixth went to Stole E over Veterans Beach and Neverland Rock, while Real Money, Swamp Rat, and a spent Joyful Heart completed the order of finish. Credit Swap was scratched.
Uncle Benny’s win was his second in as many career starts following his maiden-breaking debut over the Monmouth Park main track on August 24. The son of Declaration of War increased his career earnings to $104,100.
“I don’t know if we’ll do the long race (the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf) or the sprint,” Servis said. “I don’t know if he’ll get in the long one, but I think he’ll run further. I don’t know if he’ll get up (in time to win at 5 furlongs), but I know he’ll get a mile. He’ll go in one of those races.”
Uncle Benny returned $12.60 to win, $7.30 to place, and $4.80 to show. Backtohisroots brought back $42.20 to place and $17 to show, while Dragic paid $3.40 to show.