Well Fancied sprang a 7-1 upset in the $84,425 General Douglas MacArthur Handicap on opening day of the Belmont fall meeting Friday, beating a field that included the state's all-time leading money earner, 4-5 favorite Say Florida Sandy.
The 4-year-old gelded son of Prosper Fager went seven furlongs in 1:22 to defeat Chasin' Wimmen by 4-1/4 lengths. Impeachthepro ran third in the field of 10 New York breds.
Say Florida Sandy, the 8-year-old son of Personal Flag with more than $1.9 million in earnings, was coming off a second-place finish to Orientate in the Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga. He was in fourth position on the outside in the stretch and faded, although he did not appear to be a threat to the winner at any point.
Owned by Sanford Goldfarb and Stewart Hoffman and trained by Richard Dutrow, Well Fancied broke on top for jockey John Velazquez, but settled in two lengths behind Private Enterprise, who set fractions of :22 2/5, :45, and 1:09 1/5.
Well Fancied, winning for the 5th time in 17 career starts, moved to the lead early in the stretch as the pace setter tired, and drew off down the lane. The victory edged his career earnings to more than $200,000.
"In his last race, he bled pretty good," said Dutrow Jr., who had saddled eight winners from 51 Saratoga starts. "Things were so tough at Saratoga, and I didn't want to run him back in a `two other than,' within 30 days. After we got him over the bleeding, we breezed him a few times and we treated him. He really responded and we just decided to take a chance on this race because there are always `two other thans' coming up. We paid a lot of money for him, so we got to start getting some of it back. We've been getting buried with him."
Dutrow said the Hudson (New York Showcase Day, $125,000, six furlongs, Saturday, October 19) would be next for Well Fancied.
Well Fancied's victory came at the expense of Say Florida Sandy, bidding to win this race for the third time. The MacArthur winner in 1997 and 2000 was a very dull sixth as the 125-pound highweight, and he spotted his rivals from 7 to 12 pounds.
"The weight was probably too much," said owner John Rotella. "If you look back on all of his races, he doesn't handle weight all that well. The jockey (Gryder) said he galloped out well, so we'll re-group and come back."
Well Fancied paid $16.60, $10 and $8.70. Chasin' Wimmin returned $23.60 and $10.40. Impeachthepro paid $5.10. the $2 exacta was $483.50.