Tweedside held off favored Sweetest Thing and 13-1Golden Corona at the wire to win Saturday's $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) by a nose at Belmont Park. The 4-year-old daughter of Thunder Gulch completed the 1 3/8 miles in 2:13.63 on a turf course rated "good" and with the temporary rail set at 18 feet.
Tweedside tracked pacesetter Refugee through the early fractions just to the inside of longshot Steiners Baby Girl. Sweetest Thing settled in the back of the pack under Mark Guidry as Refugee ran a half-mile in :47.66 and six furlongs in 1:12.61. Tweedside remained in third place after a mile in 1:37.43, but was just a length behind Refugee, then swung out as they raced into the stretch. Tweedside swept to the lead as Sweetest Thing rallied wide in the stretch. Under John Velazquez, Tweedside just lasted at the wire to notch the win, her sixth in 15 starts and second in a graded stakes race.
"Coming to the quarter-pole, Refugee had the lead and I know that she likes to fight. Instead of waiting, I wanted to go after her and surprise her," said Velazquez. "She had no fight in her and I went, `Oh, no.' We passed the eighth-pole with a big lead, but she started to lose interest like she always does. I was hoping she would see the other horses coming, which she did. She wasn't startled by them, and gave me one last surge."
Golden Corona closed well to finish third, another nose-length farther back. Owsley finished another half-length back in fourth, followed by Peanut Gallery, Critical Eye, Mot Juste, Kentucky Rose, Refugee, and Steiners Baby Girl.
Guidry feels the wide trip made the difference.
"She was closing real hard," he said. "She was hitting her best stride at the quarter-pole. I didn't want to stay inside; I didn't want to get stopped. I had to go outside of everyone, and that wound up costing us the race."
The Todd Pletcher-trained Tweedside earned owners Eugene and Laura Melnyk $90,000 for the win. Last year at Belmont Park, she won the 1 1/2-mile Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) by 7 3/4 lengths over the ill-fated Exogenous. She has also won the listed Sands Point Stakes and finished second in the Hilltop Stakes. Dr. and Mrs. R. S. West and Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie Miller bred her in Kentucky.
Tweedside paid $25.60, $10, and $7.90 and topped a $66 exacta. Sweetest Thing paid $3 and $2.60. Golden Corona was worth $5.30 to show. (Chart, Equibase