(from Belmont Park reports)
Banrock and You Go West Girl tallied victories in a pair of $150,000 turf stakes for New York-bred horses on closing day of Belmont Park's fall meet Oct. 25.
Originally scheduled as part of the Oct. 24 "New York Showcase Day" card, both the Mohawk and the Ticonderoga stakes, were moved back one day because of heavy rain.
With a dream trip over a soft inner turf course, Nyala Farm’s 6-year-old Banrock won the Mohawk, the only major New York-bred turf stakes race for 3-year-olds and up the talented gelding had not previously won.
Two races earlier, Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl burst through the stretch to defeat fillies and mares in the Ticonderoga over the same inner turf course.
Settling just off slow early fractions of :25.60 and :51.26 set by Pennington, Banrock rallied three wide at the top of the stretch for jockey Javier Castellano and edged away from late-coming Gimme Credit and Solvent to win by a length. The final time for the nine furlongs was 1:52.66.
“That was fantastic,” said trainer Tom Bush. “He had the great outside stalking trip and he got his soft course. We’re very proud of him for sure. I really, really did want to win this race this year, I wanted to end it on a great note. We’re thrilled.”
The winning son of Go for Gin had run in the Mohawk twice before – finishing fourth last year and sixth in 2007 – and his victory was his third straight win in state-bred stakes company following the Ashley T. Cole at Belmont last month and the West Point Handicap at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 16.
The 4-5 favorite in the field of 12, Banrock returned $3.80 for a $2 win bet as he ran his record to 12-4-4 from 30 starts and earned $90,000 to increase his lifetime total to $798,013.
In the Ticonderoga, You Go West Girl was well reserved early behind a dawdling pace before launching a determined rally.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano for trainer Tom Proctor, You Go West Girl sat mid-pack as longshot pacesetter Acquired Cat who crawled through early fractions of :25.77, :52.76 and 1:18.56.
As the field entered the stretch, Lezcano angled his charge outside of rivals and You Go West Girl kicked on strongly to defeat 2008 Ticonderoga winner Love Cove by three lengths. Favored Nehantic Kat finished third after being stuck in traffic in the stretch.
“My filly broke good, but I didn’t want to be on the lead,” Lezcano said. “I knew the pace was slow, but I had to wait until the quarter pole because she’s the kind of filly if you ask her too soon, she’ll stop. When I asked her she just exploded.”
You Go West Girl paid $15 for a $2 win bet as the third choice in the wagering.
At the conclusion of the 33-day meet, jockey Ramon Dominguez continued to dominate the competition in New York with his fifth straight riding title. Meanwhile, trainer Todd Pletcher won his 20th individual training title.
Dominguez, New York’s leading rider, won two races on the final card to finish with 39 victories, five more than Rajiv Maragh. John Velazquez finished third with 32 winners.
Dominguez won four straight stakes on New York Showcase Day Oct. 24 to move into a commanding lead in the standings.
“Having won five riding titles is a highlight in itself,” said Dominguez, who is in his first full year riding in New York. “Here, the competition is so tough that you can never take anything for granted. ”
Dominguez set a modern-day record for victories at the Belmont Park spring/summer meet with 98 winners. Dominguez was also the leading jockey at Saratoga Race Course, Aqueduct Racetrack’s inner track meet, and Aqueduct’s spring meet.
Pletcher, with 20 victories, earned his seventh Belmont fall title.
“It’s been a good meet,” said Pletcher. “Our 2-year-olds ran very well. Anytime you have 28 second-place finishes as we did at Saratoga, you hope they turn into wins the next meet. It doesn’t always work out that way, but everything came together.”
Chester and Mary Broman were the leading owners with nine victories.
New York racing shifts to Aqueduct on Oct. 28.