Robert N. Clay's homebred Medallist, ridden by Jorge Chavez, romped and stomped at Belmont Park Sunday, winning the $150,000 Dwyer (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park over The Cliff's Edge, flying to the lead and never looking back.
Medallist set some serious fractions (:22 4/5, :44 2/5, 1:07 4/5 and 1:33 1/5), winning while kept to the task under a brisk hand ride by about 3 3/4 lengths in a stakes record time of 1:40 for the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer. The time was three-fifths off the Belmont track record.
"This horse has natural speed," said jockey Jorge Chavez. "He took the lead without me asking him, I relaxed him, and then had nothing else to do.He's a nice horse, and he does what I ask him, but I was afraid of the horses behind me, and I didn't want to leave him empty. But he had enough speed to finish, and I never had to get into him with the whip."
The Kentucky-bred son of Touch Gold
opened up by eight lengths on Sir Shackleton and jockey Rafael Bejarano on the turn. But if his five foes thought the Allen Jerkens speedster would be coming back to them in the stretch, they were sadly mistaken.
The Cliff's Edge, ridden by Shane Sellers as part of the Nick Zito-trained entry with Sir Shackleton sent off at 7-10, raced far behind in the field of six into the turn. He moved up on the rest of the field and rallied mildly while four wide in the stretch to be a distant second, gamely catching his stablemate by a half-length.
"I am really happy with the result," said Sellers. "I've never been so happy to run second in all my life. The one turn mile and a sixteenth sets up like a sprint, and being on a come-from-behind horse, I'm certainly not going to go up with the speed and have him empty out in the lane. We didn't change any tactics to please anybody. I rode him like I usually do, and Nick gave me the okay to do so. When I asked him, he passed horses so I'm pleased."
Zito said The Cliff's Edge is on target for the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 8.
"Allen had his horse ready to run and that's the way it goes" said Zito. "Medallist is a very fast horse. I'm very delighted with both my horses and hopefully everything goes good in the next couple of weeks."
Golden Look finished fourth, followed by Preachinatthebar and Shaniko.
Medallist turned in a similarly impressive performance winning the one-mile Withers (gr. III) at Aqueduct in his stakes debut May 1, his most recent start. The colt was treated for a tender splint after that race, but signaled his readiness with a 1:36 1/5 mile work at Belmont July 6. He improved to 3-1-1 in six lifetime starts with earnings of $211,360.
"I thought he was going too fast," said Jerkens. "It was a case of whether he worked too fast, whether that would hurt him or help him. Sometimes these little fat horses have to work fast when they haven't been out in three months.
"We don't know how he's going to run around two turns," Jerkens explained of Medallist. "He's still eligible for a three-other than allowance so maybe we'll run him around two turns in an allowance race. It's hard to make predictions right after a race because you feel so good you think you can do anything."
The winner paid $8.80, $3.20 and $2.70 as the second choice in the five betting interests. The entry returned $2.20 and $2.10. The exacta was worth $13.40.