Belmont hosted three exciting days of racing during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Championship. The event featured 33 races and 17 stakes. Trainer Chad Brown won seven of the 18 stakes and saddled nine winners overall. Here are some highlights from the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival!
The Belmont Stakes
We'll go ahead and start with the highlight of the weekend as the Belmont was the finale to a somewhat tumultuous and confusing and definitely unpredictable Triple Crown series. The Belmont was no different with WAR OF WILL clearly the second choice going in and of course, a little more drama on the homestretch, as he was bumped and squeezed and low and behold, look who won - the 10-1 SIR WINSTON pulled clear for the upset. And, the "other" horse in trainer Mark Casse's barn.
It all started with the 21-1 to longshot, JOEVIA setting the pace with TAX following. The time was 1:13.54 through six furlongs and they held their position at the quarter pole, but this is where things started to heat up. EVERFAST dropped back and SIR WINSTON came off the rail. WAR OF WILL ran out of gas, but SIR WINSTON still had plenty of steam, so Rosario swung to the outside of JOEVIA and TAX and surged past them at the eighth pole. WAR OF WILL continued to fade as SIR WINSTON edged clear of TACITUS and rallied five wide. JOEVIA held on for third behind TACITUS and TAX held on for fourth. MASTER FENCER rallied late for fifth. SIR WINSTON crossed the wire in victory in 2:28.30 and marked his first win since the Woodbine Display Stakes on December 8th. SPINOFF, EVERFAST, INTREPID HEART, WAR OF WILL and BOURBON WAR completed the order.
The 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes isn't the only race of that distance ran during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. The Brooklyn is a contest of the same length, but for four-year-olds and up.
In the Brooklyn, MARCONI broke from the gates and went straight to the lead to set the pace running fractions of :25.16, :50.87, 1:16.17 and 1:40.45 through the first mile. He was followed by his stablemate, YOU'RE TO BLAME.
As the field of eight turned for home, REALM moved up from fourth in an attempt to run down the leader, but MARCONI stepped up to put him away as well as the fast-closing challenger ROCKETRY. Digging in, the horse finished a half-length ahead with a final time of 2:28.97. REALM, CAMPAIGN, YOU'RE TO BLAME, SONNETEER, BIBLICAL and WAR STORY completed the order.
Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1)
COME DANCING set early fractions of :23.39 and :45.96. MIDNIGHT BISOU sat in fourth down the backstretch, about two lengths off of COME DANCING. ESCAPE CLAUSE pressured COME DANCING lightly and MOPOTISM sat three-wide in third. Turning for home MIDNIGHT BISOU inched up the inside rail behind the front runner. As a small gap opened up, Mike Smith sent her ahead, taking the win before COME DANCING could react. COME DANCING held on for second with MOPOTISM took third. ESCAPE CLAUSE finished fourth with PACIFIC WIND finishing fifth.
With her win, MIDNIGHT BISOU earned an all-expense paid trip to the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1)
The pace was set by COAL FRONT with blistering fractions of :22.17 and :44.38 with a tight field of nine turning together. MITOLE pressed the pace with PROMISES FULFILLED on his outside. After the turn, MITOLE was the one to catch while Mike Smith was stuck in traffic on MCKINZIE with nowhere to go. MITOLE took the win with PROMISES FULFILLED following. THUNDER SNOW battled hard to take third.
MITOLE earned his "Win and You're In" spot to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile with a final time of 1:32.75.
Manhattan Stakes (G1T)
QURBAAN, BANDUA and CATCH EN DIE, battled for the lead after the break. BANDUA settled as the leader to set the pace by a length. BRICKS AND MORTAR set quietly in the pack waiting for the second turn. QURBAAN took the lead over BANDUA separated by two lengths. The 3/4 time was 1:12.24. CHANNEL MAKER made a run on the outside coming towards the turn. At the stretch run, BRICKS AND MORTAR ran down the center with CHANNEL MAKER, BANDUA and ROBERT BRUCE trying for the lead. BRICKS AND MORTAR was gone though with ROBERT BRUCE holding on for second and followed by RAGING BULL in third.
The top three finishers are contenders for the Arlington Million in August. This victory marked Chad Brown's fourteenth stakes win for the meet.