Buy the Sport, sent off at 48-1 with jockey Pat Day, stormed home through the stretch to defeat tiring favorite Lady Tak in the $250,000 Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park Saturday.
Buy The Sport, a New York-bred Devil's Bag filly whose previous eight starts were in Great Britain, won with something left by a half-length while carrying 113 pounds, eight less than the favorite. Lady Tak, ridden by Jerry Bailey at even money in the field of eight, held on for second by a nose over Spoken Fur, who also carried 121 pounds and Cornelio Velasquez. Island Fashion, the 3-1 second choice coming off her triumph in the Alabama (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 16, was fourth, nearly nine lengths behind the winner. Final time for the 1 1/8-mile test on a fast track was 1:48 3/5.
Lady Tak, fourth on the backstretch, pulled Bailey to the lead on the turn for home while four wide and opened up a four-length lead in the stretch before tiring inside the final furlong, giving way grudgingly to Buy The Sport.
Bailey said the distance may be too far for Lady Tak.
"I guess so," he said. "I restrained her as along as I could "
Her trainer, Steve Asmussen, had no comment.
The winner was keen to get the lead early before taking back behind early leader Danuta, who was stalked by Island Fashion through fractions of :22 4/5, :45 2/5 and 1:09 3/5. Buy The Sport launched her bid while four wide on the turn and closed on Lady Tak from the middle of the track.
Day, who won his third Gazelle, said Buy The Sport was placed comfortably but lost some ground on the first turn.
"She couldn't keep up with the others," he said. "But she kept at it and maintained her pace. This was a good effort for her first try on dirt in this country. It shows you that she is real adaptable to come over here and win."
Trained by Brian Meehan, starting his first horse in the U.S. for her new owner Georgica Stable, Buy The Sport had been in good company in England. She was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Falmouth Stakes (Eng-II) at Newmarket July 9 and had won her only previous effort on dirt, which came in a listed stakes at Linfield April 5. The victory, worth $150,000, was her third in nine starts and pushed her career bankroll to $213,004.
Peter Minikes purchased the winner, who ran on Lasix for the first time, after her last start in England.
"We almost bought her before the Breeders' Cup last year, but there were some problems with the sale," he explained. "A month ago, I was looking at her form in Europe and she was running against some good horses that were coming back and running well. I kept saying, `This horse is better on the dirt,' because she ran that race at Lingfield (International Trial Stakes) and won. I said, `All right, let's take a shot. Buy her and bring her over here.' "
He said trainer Robert Barbara would take over the conditioning duties for Meehan.
"I can't believe she could beat these horses," Minikes said.
Patricia Calandro bred Buy The Sport, who is out of the D'Accord mare Final Accord. She was a $155,000 Fasig-Tipton purchase in February 2002.
The winner paid $98, $16.80 and $6.40. Lady Tak, who was coming off a 4 1/2-length romp in Saratoga's Test (gr. I) July 26, returned $3.20 and $2.60. Spoken Fur, a disappointing third in the Alabama when she was trying to sweep the Triple Tiara series, showed again for $3.30. The $2 exacta was worth $287.50.