Following Sea Earns Breeders' Cup Berth With Dominant Vosburgh Win

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Following Sea ran away from his rivals to win the Vosburgh Stakes. (Janet Garaguso/NYRA Photo)

Already dual grade 1-placed, Spendthrift Farm's homebred Following Sea captured his first graded win in the $232,500 Grade 2 Vosburgh Stakes Oct. 9 at Belmont Park. The 3-year-old Runhappy colt bested three rivals with a 4 3/4-length score while earning a fees-paid berth in the Nov. 6 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Del Mar.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Following Sea was third in the Aug. 28 Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and second via Hot Rod Charlie's disqualification in the July 17 Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in his two starts prior to the Vosburgh.

Breaking from the outermost post under Joel Rosario, Following Sea was hustled to the lead and marked the opening quarter-mile in :22.59 and a half-mile in :45.24 on the fast main track. Riding confidently into the stretch, Rosario needed little urging to get his colt to break away from the rest of the field. Following Sea easily drew away to complete the six furlongs in 1:09.20.

Last year's Vosburgh winner Firenze Fire, who broke through the gate under Irad Ortiz Jr. and had to be re-loaded, dueled for positioning with Baby Yoda down the backside. A course specialist with seven of his 14 wins at Belmont, Firenze Fire attempted to reel in Following Sea at the quarter-pole but was unable to make up significant ground on the pacesetter and settled for second, 2 1/2 lengths the better of Baby Yoda, who was 4 1/4 lengths clear of Good Effort. Jalen Journey was scratched.


Pletcher said he instructed Rosario to make a judgment call on tactics following the break.

"We just wanted to take advantage of the outside post and see how everything unfolded," Pletcher said. "He broke great, put himself right on the front, and it seemed like he was in hand throughout. He looked like he kicked on pretty well and Joel wrapped up on him pretty late."

Rosario said he felt confident aboard Following Sea throughout.

"I just helped him out of there," Rosario said. "It looked like he broke really well and he put himself on the lead. I thought he liked that and he ran a big race."

Pletcher, while still undecided, said he is looking towards the Breeders' Cup Sprint as a next start.

"We'll play it by ear and see. I'll talk to the guys at Spendthrift and we'll come up with a plan. It's got to be in play," Pletcher said.

Kelly Breen, trainer of Firenze Fire, said he still plans on sending his horse to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"It's going to be a hot pace. Whether it's Jackie's Warrior or this horse (Following Sea), no one is going to have an easy lead in a slow pace. It's going to be a heated event," Breen said.

Following Sea provided Claiborne Farm's Runhappy his first graded stakes winner. Sent off as the 5-2 third choice, Following Sea returned $7 for a $2 win wager. He now has a 3-1-2 record from six starts and has banked $513,020.

The Kentucky-bred is out of the stakes-winning Speightstown mare Quick Flip, who has also produced stakes-placed Inspeightof (Orb) and Gimmick (Into Mischief), a 2-year-old filly who placed in this year's Sorority Stakes at Monmouth. Quick Flip was bred to Authentic for 2022.

2021 Vosburgh S.
October 9th, 2021

5 Following Sea
4 Firenze Fire
3 Baby Yoda
2 Good Effort (IRE)

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