Virginia-bred Navesink, a close-up fifth in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) when last out, earned his second career graded stakes win in Sunday's $200,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIIT) on yielding turf at Belmont Park.
Navesink led the field into the first turn but was soon, if not quickly, overtaken by Krieger, who ran the opening quarter-mile in a dawdling :25.27 under Jorge Chavez. Navesink and jockey Edgar Prado maintained their inside position while remaining in close contact with Krieger as the pace quickened from sluggish to moderate. Krieger and Navesink continued to run one-two around the second turn as Stategic Partner began to rally from last under Richard Migliore. Navesink, though, utilized the strategic advantages of staying close to a slow pace on the off turf while saving ground throughout and kicked clear of Krieger in the stretch while holding Strategic Partner safely at bay.
"This horse has got it all," said Prado. "I wasn't concerned with the slow pace because I was only a half-length off Kreiger. When he started to move forward my plan was to follow him. We had a pretty big hole to go through. Once we straightened out he really took off."
Navesink completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.53 in winning by 3 1/4 lengths at the wire while racing on Lasix for the first time. Strategic Partner finished four lengths ahead of favored Baptize, who raced in third through the early going. Krieger was another half-length back in fourth and was followed by One Eyed Joker, Proud Man, and Reluctant Groom.
The win marks the fifth in seven career starts for Navesink, who earned $90,000 for Jayeff B Stables. Navesink previously won the Kent Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT) in July at Delaware Park and finished third in Proud Man's Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont in June. Navesink (Irish River--Sailing Minstrel, by The Minstrel) was bred by Lazy Lane Stables and is trained by Alan E. Goldberg.
"I didn't think there was too much speed in there, so I told Edgar to send him away and see where he is," said Goldberg. "I don't know if he can get in the Breeders' Cup Mile. The plan was this, then ship to Hollywood Park."
Navesink returned $6.70, $4, and $2.60. Strategic Partner paid $8.10 and $3.40 and completed the $52.50 exacta. Baptize was worth $2.40 to show. (Chart, Equibase