Jazil, winner of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), finished second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming contest Jan. 5 at Aqueduct in his first start since winning the Belmont and recovering from a bruised hind cannon bone.
In his first start as a 4-year-old, the Seeking the Goldcolt took his spot at the back of the pack in the day's eighth race on a track that started off `fast’ and was downgraded to `good’ after a steady afternoon rain.
Knowing that Jazil is a slave to pace, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sought mainly to get a strong effort from the horse he plans to run next in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. I) March 3.
Take the Bluff, who wrested the lead form Admiral’s Arch after a quarter mile of :23.86, was able to set the ensuing pace of :47.75, 1:12.23, 1:37.98 and finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Jazil in 1:44.77. Take the Bluff returned $8.50 as the second choice.
Jazil, however, had rated well beneath regular rider Fernando Jara, and made a wide move at the quarter-pole to finish with plenty of energy. The race figures to be an ideal set-up for the future.
“It’s disappointing, obviously, coming out of the Belmont,” said McLaughlin, who had planned to winter Jazil in Florida with likely Horse of the Year, Invasor, but changed his mind when there was an outbreak of equine herpes virus.
“We anticipated this a little bit. You have to be concerned with the tight turns and backing up to a mile and a sixteenth. He wants farther; we know that. Like Fernando said, `If we ran against these horses every time, we would win most times.’ He needed the run. It’s been six months (sic). He was running at the end. I’m happy enough. You want to win every time you lead them over here.
"I thought his class would be able to overcome a few obstacles. He was five-wide on the turn coming home, and that’s tough on these turns to make up that kind of ground. We’ll look for bigger and better things, and we have all year to go.”
Said Jara: “I’m happy with his race. He hadn’t run in seven months. He was pretty tired at the end, and that was good to see. Now that he has a race, he’s going to get better.”