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ELMONT, NY – Shug McGaughey’s undefeated trainee First Captain added a third win tally to his young resume as he successfully stepped up to defeat graded stakes rivals in Sunday’s $250,000 Dwyer Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.
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First Captain broke from post 2 under Jose Ortiz as the 2/5 heavy favorite and settled off the pacewhile Ridin With Biden shot to the front and posted opening fractions of :23.47 and :46.67.
Ortiz began applying pressure and asked him to run near the 7/16 pole, then tipped him out to run three-wide off the turn alongside Snow House.
Ridin With Biden fought back gamely along the rail, but First Captain ranged up to take the lead near the 1/8 pole before drawing off late to win the fast one-turn dirt mile event by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:36.19.
“He was behind horses and took some dirt,” Ortiz said. “They were running. They went 46, and when I put him in the clear, it took me a while to get into high gear, but when he did it, he used that beautiful stride of his. He went by them as he is supposed to and he galloped out really well. I think he’s going to improve with distance.”
Ridin With Biden held off Snow House by a 1/2-length for runner-up honors. Distanced runners Gershwin and Civil War completed the order of finish in the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
First Captain’s win followed local triumphs going 7 furlongs on April 24 and a sloppy (sealed) mile on May 29 to increase his earnings to $237,600. The 3-year-old Curlin colt was purchased for $1.5 millon by West Point Thoroughbreds, Siena Farm, Woodford Racing, and Bobby Flay (the latter also having bred him).
“He was a lot steadier today. I knew he was winning his first 2 races on ability, but I didn’t really know what to think of him,” McGaughey said. “Today, he showed me something, especially that two turns is going to be in the bag, I think. I liked the way he took the dirt; he took it a lot better today than he did the last time. He was a little further back than I thought he would be. But that’s why they are what they are. I thought we were in pretty good shape coming up to the 1/4 pole.”
First Captain returned $2.80 to win and $2.10 to place. Ridin With Biden brought back $5.20 to place. There was no show betting.
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