Robert J. Baron’s Promises Fulfilled exceeded all promises July 6 with a front-running, 4 1/2-length score in the $300,000, Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park.
Part of the “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, the win earned the son of Shackleford an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
The odds-on favorite in Saturday’s seven-horse field, Promises Fulfilled broke on top under jockey Luis Saez and quickly established a one-length lead. Warrior’s Club pressed the pace in the two path on the outside as Promises Fulfilled set quarter-mile fractions of :23.16 and :46.09. Never wavering, Promises Fulfilled increased his lead to 2 1/2 lengths in early stretch and continued to surge. The final time for the seven-furlong sprint was 1:21.75.
“It didn’t look like there was much speed, and when Killybegs Captain missed the break, that left him out there,” winning trainer Dale Romans said. “He was going to be hard to beat if no one pressed him. He hadn’t had that slow of a pace in his life. Look at the horses he’s been running against. This race finally gave him a bit of class relief. But this should set him up well.”
Killybegs Captain took third, a neck behind Warrior’s Club.
“He broke so sharp. He always breaks sharp,” Saez said. “The last time, he missed the break, but today he broke so clean, he was right there. When he came to the stretch and he switched leads, he was running. I still had a lot of horse. It’s very hot today. He got a little tired when he crossed the wire, but that’s normal.
“I think he’s 100 percent. He feels way better than he did in his last races, and let’s see what happens in Saratoga.”
Promises Fulfilled entered the race off a fourth-place finish in the June 8 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap. He made his first start of the season at Meydan Racecourse, where he finished fourth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News. He then returned to the states, where he took third in the May 4 Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com at Churchill Downs.
It was the fifth graded stakes win for Promises Fulfilled, who won the Grade 2 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes, Grade 3 Amsterdam Stakes, Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes Presented by Runhappy, and Grade 2 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes last year. The 4-year-old has seven wins from 15 starts and $1,437,280 in earnings.
“He’s a lot kinder than Shackleford was,” said Romans, who also trained the 2011 Preakness Stakes winner and sire. “Shackleford was one of a kind. He was a great and smart horse. This one is smart, too, but he’s nicer. Where we go next, we’ll have to sit down and figure it out. He can make a mile. There’s just a good group of horses running three-quarters and a mile. We’ll get that all figured out.”