Silver State Victorious in Met Mile to Headline Saturday’s Belmont Undercard

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Silver State, with Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard, tallied his sixth consecutive win with a one-length score in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on June 5. (Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo)

If Silver State had a theme song, it would most definitely be the DJ Khaled anthem "All I Do Is Win."

Galloping to his sixth straight score, the 4-year-old son of Hard Spun stole the spotlight from favored Knicks Go with a one-length victory over By My Standards in the $1 million, Grade 1 Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan Handicap, the headliner among eight graded stakes on the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets undercard June 5 at Belmont Park.

With Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard, Silver State rated off the pace set by 4-5 favorite and multiple Grade 1 winner Knicks Go, and then kicked into another gear off the turn for home with an inside bid as that rival faded. Silver State had enough to hold off the late run of multiple graded stakes winner By My Standards, who trailed the field of six early. Recent Carter Handicap winner Mischevious Alex, who tracked in second until the final furlong, was third. The final time was 1:35.45 on a fast track.

Silver State was sent off at odds of 5.70-1 as the third betting choice. This was his first Grade 1 win for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing. He came in off a win in the April 17 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. He also punched his ticket to the Nov. 6 Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar, earning a fees-paid berth to the premier event through the "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge series.

"He's a Met Mile winner. That's what he is," Asmussen said. "We built it up to this point to get him in the shape he is today and that will get him the credit he deserves. That's a great part of racing. You have to earn it and that's what he did today.

"The Met Mile is an extremely significant win and one of the great races in American racing. This is six wins in a row for him. He is just an absolutely beautiful Stonestreet homebred that Mr. Horton and Ron Winchell purchased and have campaigned. Their patience to allow him to get to this level was perfect."

Silver State boosted his career record to seven wins from 11 starts and $1,765,094 in earnings.–Bob Ehalt

Letruska Romps Over Bonny South in Ogden Phipps

Letruska rolls in Ogden Phipps. (Eclipse Sportswire)

No Lasix, no problem for St. George Stable's Letruska.

Racing without the direutic, used to control respiratory bleeding, for the first time in the United States in the $480,000, Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes, the speedy Super Saver mare led from start to finish to post a 2 ¾-length victory over late-closing Bonny South. Grade 1 winner Shedaresthedevil ran third, another length back.

Lasix is prohibited within 48 hours of all stakes races at New York Racing Association tracks per NYRA's commitment to eliminating race-day medication. Some other prominent racing jurisdictions have also banned its use in stakes, and Lasix will not be permitted at the Breeders' Cup World Championships this fall. Letruska earned an automatic berth in the Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff Nov. 6 at Del Mar with her win in the Ogden Phipps.

"All of the other fillies had raced before with that situation, without Lasix. This was her first time," said trainer Fausto Gutierrez. "She's not a bleeder, really. But it was a question mark, especially with this heat, how she would respond. But she ran great."

Letruska's performance in the Phipps was equal, if not superior, to her last-out victory when she upset champion Monomoy Girl in the April 17 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

Letruska took the initiative in the Ogden Phipps with Jose Ortiz aboard, setting the pace through fractions of :23.49 and :46.76, before opening up three lengths with six furlongs in 1:10.26.

At that point, a stalking Shedaresthedevil couldn't keep up, along with the three other fillies and mares in the race. Letruska was five lengths in front in midstretch and though she tired somewhat in the closing furlong, she had enough left to prevail comfortably. She raced 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.25 as the 6-5 favorite.

"She was breaking a little bit slow, but she broke good today. I was able to put her on the lead and make the other horses chase me," Ortiz said. "It was very impressive. She's a very nice mare."

Bred in Kentucky but campaigned in Mexico through her first seven starts, Letruska moved back to the United States in December of 2019 and has steadily developed for St. George, an operation owned by Germán Larrea Mota-Velasco. She improved her career record to 14 wins in 19 starts with earnings of $1,432,319.–Byron King

Casa Creed Flies Home Late to Upset Jaipur

Casa Creed scores the upset. (Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo)

LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable's Casa Creed rallied down the middle of the Belmont Park turf to post a 10.80-1 upset win by two lengths in the $400,000, Grade 1 Jackpocket Jaipur Stakes.

With the win, the 5-year-old son of Jimmy Creed earned an automatic berth in the Nov. 6 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar via the “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series. He finished six furlongs in 1:08.04 on a turf course rated good under Junior Alvarado.

When told that the distance of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is five furlongs, trainer Bill Mott said, "That's a whole different ballgame. You are dealing with a whole different group of horses. But what are you going to do? We have a 'Win and You're In' spot and I'm sure it will get a lot of attention."

Co-owner Mike Francesa (JEH Racing), who became a radio legend on WFAN in New York for his opinionated commentaries, was skeptical about asking Casa Creed to handle a five-furlong dash.

"That's going to be a tough call, and you know what, we'll let Bill make the final decision," Francesa said. "We'll obviously have input, but I thought six furlongs was pushing it for him and five will be very hard. It will be hard to pass up, but we'll wait and see what happens."

Chewing Gum, a 28-1 longshot also trained by Hall of Famer Mott, closed to finish second, three-quarters of a length ahead of even-money favorite and pacesetter Bound for Nowhere. The winner and runner-up were eighth and ninth, respectively, in the early stages before swinging wide at the top of the stretch and rolling past the field.–Bob Ehalt

Other graded stakes Saturday at Belmont Park:

Resorts World Casino Manhattan S.

Domestic Spending reaffirmed his status as one of the best U.S.-based turf horses in training with his fourth consecutive victory in the Grade 1 Manhattan, his win streak dating back to last year with all coming in stakes races. He benefited from a patient ride by Flavien Prat to charge from well back at the top of the stretch and overtake game pacesetter and stablemate Tribhuvan to win by 2 ¾ lengths as the 3-2 favorite.

"I hate to use that comparison with (2019 Horse of the Year and champion turf male) Bricks and Mortar because they're so rare to come by and you don't want to say that the next one you have is the same. It rarely ever works that way," trainer Chad Brown said. "But boy, he's on his way. It's certainly looking that way. He's gotten stronger and is going farther than we thought when he was a younger horse, like Bricks and Mortar. He just keeps progressing along. I'm so proud of him."

"We had a good trip. He broke well and I got him to relax all the way around there," said Prat. "It was a pretty strong pace. When it was time to make a move, he responded very well. Then, he was floating a little bit down the lane when he was by himself. He ran a good race. 

"This has been an important race for us. It's such a great tradition, and to be run before the Belmont Stakes every year. It is one of the premier turf races for males at a classic distance in the country and I hold it in high regard," Brown said. "We point for it every year, and I've been so lucky, me and my team, to have some good horses through the years to work with." 

Tribhuvan set a fast pace and held on well to finish second against Grade 1 winner Gufo, who rallied from last but had too much ground to make up. Domestic Spending, one of four horses in the Manhattan trained by Brown, covered 1 ¼ miles in 1:59.08 on a turf course rated good.

Domestic Spending, a British-bred 4-year-old Kingman gelding owned by Klaravich Stables, improved his career record to six wins in seven starts with $1,314,500 in earnings. 

Longines Just a Game S.

Godolphin-owned Althiqa and Summer Romance had established a rivalry in two races earlier this year at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, and the pair continued it in the Grade 1 Just a Game, with Althiqa rallying along the rail to collar her pacesetting stablemate and win by three-quarters of a length under Mike Smith.

The 4-year-old Dark Angel filly had started her 2021 campaign with a win in a Group 2 turf stakes at Meydan in January, with Summer Romance finishing fifth. Three weeks later, Summer Romance won another Group 2 stakes as Althiqa finished a late-closing third. In the Just a Game, Summer Romance took the lead immediately after the break and controlled the pace well into the stretch. Althiqa angled to the inside under Smith and was the only threat in the late stages, edging clear to complete the one-mile distance in 1:33.90.

“She’s got a big heart and she’s very, very honest, so she’s going to run good,” Smith said. “You’re just going to have to make a trip when it’s time to move on. I was actually going to tip out, but she kind of leaned in like she wanted to drop to the fence, so I just let her. It was a small hole but [trainer Charles Appleby] told me she had a big heart, and she got on through there. She might suit American racing really well. We might want to keep her here.”

Appleby also trains Summer Romance for Godolphin. Their homebred Althiqa improved her career record to five wins in 10 starts with $466,213 in earnings. Graded stakes winner Daddy Is a Legend finished third in her second start as a 6-year-old, 1 ¾ lengths behind Summer Romance.

Acorn S.

Search Results, coming off of a close runner-up effort to Malathaat in the Longines Kentucky Oaks, picked up her first Grade 1 win in the Acorn by a half-length over a rallying Obligatory. She covered the one-turn mile distance in 1:35.50 under replacement rider Javier Castellano, who subbed for Irad Ortiz Jr. after Ortiz was involved in a spill Thursday at Belmont.

The 3-year-old Flatter filly tallied her third stakes victory following two wins during Aqueduct’s spring meet. She improved her overall record to four wins in five starts and $804,000 in earnings for owner Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown.

“I’m just so proud of her to come back in five weeks after a real dogfight with Malathaat,” Brown said. “To bounce right back and lay it on the line again, this filly has so much talent and so much heart. She’s a very rare kind of horse to have, and we’re so lucky to have her.”

Obligatory, who won the Eight Belles Stakes Presented by Smithfield in her previous start, finished a game second, one length ahead of Make Mischief.

Brooklyn S. Presented by Northwell Health

Lone Rock decimated a quality field of marathon specialists with a 11 ¼-length win in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. Shipping to Belmont off of two straight wins at 1 ½ miles, including the Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at Churchill Downs, the 6-year-old Majestic Warrior gelding sat in second behind an honest pace before moving up in the far turn, taking a short lead in early stretch, and then effortlessly powering clear under Ramon Vazquez. Final time for a mile and a half was 2:28.97.

California-based graded stakes winner Tizamagician finished second, and Moretti finished third.

Lone Rock, owned by Flying P Stable and trained by Robertino Diodoro, improved his career record to 11 wins in 33 starts with earnings of $748,921.

Woody Stephens S. Presented by Nassau Co. Industrial Development Agency

Drain the Clock made it a perfect two-for-two in New York after shipping up from Florida with a thrilling neck win over Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens. The 3-year-old Maclean’s Music colt had established himself as a talented sprinter at Gulfstream Park earlier in 2021 with two stakes wins sprinting and a good second in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes, and had recently won the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct, but he was a 7.50-1 choice in a competitive edition of the Woody Stephens.

Jose Ortiz sent Drain the Clock to the early lead but he was soon joined by 1.05-1 favorite and recent Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU winner Jackie’s Warrior, and that pair separated from the field through the far turn. Jackie’s Warrior maintained a tenuous lead into deep stretch as the pair dueled side by side, but Drain the Clock passed him near the finish for a breakthrough Grade 1 win. Final time for the seven-furlong race was 1:22.27.

“Obviously, Jackie’s Warrior missed the break and after that he ran up on the inside and we were in a good spot,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “If we were good enough then we were going to win. At the quarter pole, I thought we were going to be second. It looked like he was backing up a little bit. He dug in after that, and then Jackie’s Warrior wouldn’t give up. All credit to the horse."

Drain the Clock improved his career record to six wins from eight starts and $539,550 in earnings for owners Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Nentwig.

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