Jayeff B Stables' homebred 3-year-old Ciro remained unbeaten in North America, winning the $150,000 Lawrence Realization Handicap (gr. IIIT) by 2 1/2 lengths over Whata Brainstorm Sunday at Belmont Park. Over good turf, the Christophe Clement trainee completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:31.48, coming home the final quarter mile in :24.78.
"He was totally relaxed out there," said winning rider Jose Santos. "I asked him to run at the three-eighths pole and he just took off. I never asked him in the stretch."
Cardinal Verse set a dawdling early pace (:50.21 for the first 1/2 mile) while being pressed by Avowed. Ciro trailed the tightly bunched field of ten after a mile run in 1:41.22, moved up along the rail during the second turn, angled out wide approaching the stretch, and closed with a flourish down the center of the track.
"He had some trouble in the race," Clement said. "He was boxed in at the three-eighths pole, but Jose (Santos) took him wide for a clear run."
Lodge Hill came home third, 8 3/4 lengths behind Whata Brainstorm. Polish Miner finished fourth, followed by Avowed, Cardinal Verse, Rob's Spirit, and Grand Finale. Sailing and Dawn of the Condor were eased in the stretch. Cat's At Home, Indy Shuffle, Painted Pistol, and Wild Over Ian were scratched.
The victory affirmed Ciro's one-length win over King Cugat in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington International in August, Ciro's first race outside of Europe. While trained by Aidan O'Brien in Europe, Ciro (Woodman--Gioconda, by Nijinsky II) finished third in the Irish Derby (Ire-I) and sixth in the French Derby (Fr-I) after winning the Prix Lupin (Fr-I). The Lawrence Realization marks the fifth win in nine career races for Ciro, and his first while conditioned by Clement.
"Last time in the Secretariat, he beat King Cugat, which to me is the best 3-year-old American turf horse," said Clement. "Today, I wanted him to show me he could stay the mile and a half on soft ground. He won very impressively."
The 7-5 favorite, Ciro returned $4.80, $3.40, and $2.60. Whata Brainstorm paid $7.20 and $4.50. Lodge Hill was worth $8.40 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $33.80.
"We will try to map out a plan to get to the Breeders' Cup," said Clement. "The Turf Classic (Invitational, gr. I, Oct 7) might be too quick, but there are other options." (Chart, Equibase