Pat Day sent Fire Slam through a narrow opening on the rail and Fire Slam edged out Teton Forest by a head to win the Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup (gr. II) today at Belmont Park.
It was a combination of good horses and a fast track that saw another quick time on the day. Fire Slam went the seven furlongs in 1:20.94. The track record is 1:20.17. The track record for 6 1/2 furlongs was broken earlier on the card.
Smokume and Shannon Uske took the early lead while pressed by Teton Forest and Jerry Bailey. Value Plus and John Velazquez were in third.They went the quarter in :22.40 and the half in :45.08.
Day had Fire Slam on the rail and waited patiently for room. As they were in the turn, he began his move as Smokume began backing up. Fire Slam and Teton Forest battled to the wire with the winner getting the nod by a head. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to Abbondanza.
"I was really in the dream spot," Day said. "The horse for Mr. Jerkens [Smokume, trained by Allen Jerkens] was trying to get out and I anticipated it at the top of the stretch. They gave me an opening down on the fence. It wasn't open very long, and I had to take it when it came. So, I jumped in there. This horse has a real strong three-sixteenths of a mile run, and when he makes the lead, he tends to wait just a little bit, which is why it was so close today."
Fire Slam is a 3-year-old colt by Grand Slam out of the Salt Lake
mare Miss Firefly. He was bred in Kentucky by Julie Jones Mogge and races for Stan Fulton. The $230,000 yearling purchase is trained by David Carroll. He won for the fifth time in eight career outings.
Fire Slam paid $7.60, $3.70, and $2.90. Teton Forest returned $4 and $3.30 and Abbondanza was worth $3.50.
Saratoga County was fourth and Smokume finished fifth.
Not thrilled by the performance of 7-5 favorite Value Plus, who beat only Stolen Time, was trainer Todd Pletcher, who said only, "Basically, he ran with no fire."
Value Plus' jockey John Velazquez, added, "We should have been up on the lead, but I jut couldn't get him up there. I tried, but he just wouldn't go and I couldn't get him up. He showed up flat."