Phipps Stable's Boisterous rallied boldly to the lead in the midstretch and drew clear to two-length decision in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker Stakes, capturing the 1 1/8-mile turf affair at Belmont Park for the second straight year. Now a five-time stakes winner for trainer Shug McGaughey, the five-year-old horse has earned $646,390 from a 20-8-1-2 career line.
Boisterous, who was dropping in class and cutting back in trip off three consecutive efforts at 1 1/4 miles, rated off the pace along the inside as Stormy Lord showed the way on the good turf, establishing opening splits in :24 3/5, :49 1/5 and 1:13 4/5. Jockey Jose Lezcano angled Boisterous off the rail approaching the stretch drive and turned for home widest of all as his mount quickly accelerated into contention.
Stormy Lord was still clinging to a head advantage after a mile in 1:38, but Boisterous was clearly going best on the far outside and blew right past the pacesetter. He cruised through the final furlong under a hand ride, stopping the teletimer in 1:50 1/5.
"He broke very good and I got the position I wanted. In the middle of the turn when everybody moved, I still had a hold," Lezcano said. "I didn't get shuffled back; I let them go. I didn't want to move yet. When I swung out, he gave me the kick I expected him to give me. He finished very good."
The even-money favorite returned payoffs of $4.10, $3.10 and $2.50.
A tight battle between longshots developed for second, with the 22-1 See Tobe edging the 26-1 Tune Me In by a nose on the wire. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to fourth-placer Stormy Lord, who was followed by Bombaguia, Sky Blazer and Barocci. Freud's Honour was scratched.
Boisterous posted his first stakes win in the 2011 Three Coins Up and followed last year's Knickerbocker with a victory in the Grade 2 Red Smith. He also placed in the Grade 1 Man 'o War at Belmont. The dark bay captured his first stakes attempt this season, the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in early May, and followed it with a fast-closing third in the Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont. Boisterous just missed as the favorite in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap next out, recording a neck second, and entered Saturday's race off a disappointing ninth in the Grade 1 Arlington Million.
"He runs good over this course," said Buzz Tenney, assistant to McGaughey. "He's been third in two Grade 1s here, and this is four races he's won over this course. (Lezcano) got him in a good position early in the race, and I think that's the key with him. I think he likes to get in position early, be patient, and find a hole to finish through."
Bred in Kentucky by Cynthia Phipps, Boisterous is the first stakes winner out of Grade 1-placed stakes heroine Emanating. The Cox's Ridge mare is herself a daughter of Grade 3 heroine Lead Kindly Light, who produced Grade 1 star Gold Fever. This female family is also responsible for Grade 1-winning sire Bellamy Road, Grade 3-scoring stallion Out of Place, and the mother-son duo of Grade 1 winner Versailles Treaty and Grade 2 hero Saarland. The extended family includes Exclusive Native, sire of the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed.