Belmont Park Race Report (Cont.)

Why...And How!
Out of the gray shroud that enveloped Belmont Park came the ghostly figure of Whywhywhy. With a driving rain whipping across the track and flashes of lightning off in the distance, the son of Mr. Greeley emerged out of the murk to score a 1 3/4-length victory in the Sept. 15 Futurity Stakes (gr. I)

With three consecutive graded stakes victories at three different distances, all by open lengths, perhaps it is time to remove the repititious question in the horse's name and replace it with three exclamation points. There no longer are any whys associated with the horse, only wheres and whens, and only his trainer and co-owner Patrick Biancone can answer those.

Biancone owns Whywhywhy in partnership with Fabien Ouaki, who owns a chain of clothing stores in Paris, France. The pair purchased the colt privately after he was withdrawn from this year's Fasig-Tipton Florida February 2-year-old sale. Previously he had been bought back for $27,000 at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale after failing to reach his reserve.

Now, everyone wants a piece of Whywhywhy. And for good reason. Biancone's unabashed praise for the colt shouted out through the downpour following the Futurity.

"He is unbelievable," he said. "He handles everything. They fall in front of him (in the Flash Stakes, gr. III) and he still wins. They shuffle him back (in the Sanford Stakes, gr. II) and he still wins. Today, he handled the weather. He's a real street fighter. I think the horse is going to win the Breeders' Cup. He will love two turns."

In the Futurity, Whywhywhy was always in contention, sitting right behind the Bob Baffert-trained Truckle Feature and Sapling Stakes (gr. III) winner Valid Video through testing fractions of :22.54 and :45.55. At the quarter pole, Whywhywhy, under Edgar Prado, collared Truckle Feature and drew off to a three-length lead at the eighth pole. Although Hopeful (gr. I) runner-up Pretty Wild cut it to 1 3/4 lengths at the wire, Whywhywhy was never in any danger. It was a gap of 5 1/2 lengths back to Truckle Feature. The winner covered the mile in a solid 1:36.33 over the track labeled "good." By comparison, the Matron Stakes (gr. I) earlier in the day was run in 1:38.52.

Biancone said Whywhywhy likely will train up to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), while stablemate Zavata goes for the Champagne Stakes (gr. I).

Flying Family
And so the line continues. From the great Personal Ensign to her multiple grade I-winning daughter My Flag to My Flag's daughter Storm Flag Flying, who joined mother and grandmother as grade I winners with her resounding score in the Sept. 15 Matron Stakes.

Coming off just a six-furlong maiden victory at Saratoga, the daughter of Storm Cat, owned by Ogden Mills Phipps, blew her field away despite racing greenly to win by 12 3/4 lengths under John Velazquez. As she did in her maiden victory, Storm Flag Flying had trouble with her lead changes, but still won convincingly, defeating Sorority Stakes (gr. III) winner Wild Snitch and the promising maiden winner Fircroft, who experienced traffic problems turning for home. Because of her impeccable breeding and impressive debut, Storm Flag Flying was sent off as the 7-5 favorite in the field of seven.

"When I asked her for her run at the top of the stretch she took off," Velazquez said. "She switched her leads perfect, but she shied away from the whip. She's not used to being spanked. I got her back on her right lead. She was a lot better behaved today. She was a completely different horse than in her last race."

Trainer Shug McGaughey said Storm Flag Flying will be pointed for the grade I Frizette Stakes (won by Personal Ensign) and then the Long John Silver's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I; won by My Flag), so she obviously still has some big shoes to fill.

Hardly Common
For Richard Englander, owner of Jerome Handicap (gr. II) winner Boston Common, this was something he'd dreamed about for a long time.

"This was my first graded stakes winner in New York," he said with pride following Boston Common's emphatic five-length victory. "Oh my God, you can't believe what a thrill this is. I'm from Westchester County, and Belmont Park has always been my favorite track. Just being here and running on this amazing track is unbelievable, but to win a graded stakes here is a dream come true."

Englander, whose vast stable led all owners in earnings in 2001 and earned the stock trader an Eclipse Award as outstanding owner, struck up a conversation with one of the patrons standing behind the railing of the winner's circle, and couldn't help but look back at how far he's come. "Five years ago, I was standing where you are," he said.

Boston Common, who ran his heart out in his recent second-place efforts in the King's Bishop (gr. I) and Amsterdam (gr. II) Stakes at Saratoga after battling through blistering early fractions, finally had things his own way in the Jerome. After getting away to a clear lead in :46.24 for the opening half, the race was as good as over. The son of Boston Harbor increased his lead throughout, coasting to a five-length victory under Jorge Chavez in 1:36.12 for the mile. Longshot Vinemeister finished second, 5 1/2 lengths ahead of New York-bred No Parole.

"I always wondered how tough this horse would be if he got a little bit of a breather," said Michael Pino, one of eight trainers used by Englander. "The question was getting the route. I have to give Rick some credit. I was leaning toward running him in the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III), but he wanted to run here. By stretching him out, we hoped he would get a clear pace. He's got a short stride, and there was a question about him getting distance. This was definitely an easier group today."

Pulling Up
If ever a horse deserved to win a race it was Carson Hollow in the Floral Park Handicap (gr. III) on Sept. 14. The New York-bred daughter of Carson City, owned by Hemlock Hills Farm and Frank Stronach, had recently suffered a heartbreaking defeat to You in the Test Stakes (gr. I) after one of the most thrilling stretch battles seen in years. This time it was a piece of cake, as Carson Hollow was unopposed on the lead, then had little trouble turning back the challenges of Gold Mover, Shiny Band, and To Marquet--the only other horses in the field--to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:10.25 for the six furlongs...Also on Sept. 14, in the Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT), Allen Paulson Living Trust's Startac came through an opening along the inside and caught 4-5 favorite Volponi in the final strides to win by three-quarters of a length, with Dr. Kashnikow third. Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Jerry Bailey, Startac covered the 1 1/8 miles on the turf in a quick 1:46.60. By Steve Haskin

(Chart, Equibase)

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