Belmont Park Race Report: One of the Boys

Belmont Park Race Report: One of the Boys
Photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Seeking the Daylight takes Brooklyn Handicap.
Published in the June 22 issue of The Blood-Horse
So, there is a king among the Amazon queens after all. In the past two years, trainer Mark Hennig and owner Edward P. Evans have been racking up one stakes victory after another with their bevy of femme fatales. But in the June 15 Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II), Evans' familiar yellow and black silks were carried to victory by a 4-year-old hunk name Seeking Daylight.

With a quarter mile to run in the Brooklyn, Seeking Daylight was doing just that, as he was stuck behind a wall of horses with no escape route. Then, jockey Edgar Prado, as he had done a week earlier aboard Sarava in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), saw an opening and gunned his mount through. In a flash, Seeking Daylight was gone, seeking nothing but the finish line. He coasted home in the slop to win by 8 1/4 lengths, covering the 1 1/8 miles in a blistering 1:46.35.

This was one of those typical Belmont packed down, edge-of-the-beach surfaces, where horses who take to it skip along like frolicking kids in bare feet trying to outrun the waves. In the first seven dirt races run on the card, the average winning margin was seven lengths.

The Brooklyn marked the 2002 debut of last year's Dwyer (gr. II) winner and Travers (gr. I) and Super Derby (gr. I) runner-up E Dubai, but it was apparent his connections--trainer Saeed bin Suroor and head assistant Tom Albertrani--had more pressing matters in Kentucky, where they watched Street Cry demolish his opponents in the $833,250 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I).

The Brooklyn, once one of the most prestigious handicap races in America, has been pretty much swallowed up by the Stephen Foster and the $500,000 Californian Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, both run the same day as the Brooklyn.

In addition to E Dubai, the Brooklyn did draw last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) runner-up Invisible Ink and this year's Westchester Handicap (gr. III) winner Free of Love. Seeking Daylight, who had shown great promise as a 2-year-old before a fractured cannon bone sidelined him for 15 months, was sent off at 6-1 after running a solid fourth in the Westchester. In his previous start, he romped by 5 1/4 lengths in an Aqueduct allowance in the slop.

In the Brooklyn, Prado kept the son of Seeking the Gold about five lengths off the lead in fifth most of the way. E Dubai, the 6-5 favorite, took over from Dayton Flyer around the far turn, but Country Be Gold and Seeking Daylight were on the move. Country Be Gold slipped through along the rail, while Seeking Daylight shot between horses on the outside. Prado pulled hard on the left rein to get him to change leads, and from there on it was a procession. Country Be Gold held on for second over Griffinite and E Dubai.

"We were a little concerned with the track, but he handled it fine," Hennig said. "He's been training like a bear; every day was more intense. We'll look at the (July 6) Suburban (gr. I). He galloped out great today. I think the farther the distance, the more he'll enjoy it." b

Pulling Up
With six horses scratching out of the June 15 Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT), run over soft turf, Van Minister, the longest shot in the five-horse field at 13-1, came from last under Mike Luzzi to nail even-money favorite Miesque's Approval by a half-length. Owned by Our Sugar Bear Stable and trained by Carlos Martin, the son of With Approval covered the nine furlongs in 1:54.42...Fox Ridge Farm's Riskaverse captured the $116,100 Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIIT) on June 16, defeating Cyclorama and She's Vested. Trained by Pat Kelly, Riskaverse raced on Lasix for the first time and paid $9.40 under Robbie Davis...What happens when you give Allen Jerkens a son of Mr. Prospector out of a Danzig mare to train? You can answer that in one word: Greatness. On June 15, Edward and Marlyn Seltzer's undefeated homebred Greatness stamped himself as a 3-year-old to watch, as he destroyed his opposition in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race, winning by 10 1/2 lengths in 1:14.65, a fifth of a second off the track record.

(Chart, Equibase)

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