Epalo appeared to be home free in the late stages of the $500,000 Man o' War, but Michael Tabor's Magistretti, last at the top of the stretch, flew down the middle of the track to win going away on yielding turf at Belmont Park Saturday.
Ridden by Edgar Prado, Magistretti, a 4-year-old bay colt by Diesis
, was reserved through most of the 1 3/8-mile journey as Epalo, with German rider Andrasch Starke aboard, set all of the pace. Trapped at the rear, Magistretti followed Better Talk Now, who got into gear late. Under moderate left-handed uging, Magistretti swept past his six rivals with little trouble and was easily best, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. The time on yielding turf was 2:14 3/5.
"Around the turn, my horse grabbed the bit and wanted to go inside," said Prado of his first Man o'War winner. "I thought I was in trouble at the top of the stretch. I had to wait. I got him outside, he switched leads and had another gear. It was a big finish."
Magistretti went over the $1 million mark in career earnings.
The German-bred and raced Epalo, who was third in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) by disqualification, a half-length behind Magistretti in his last start, held on for second, with Gary Tanaka-owned stablemate King's Drama finishing third. They were the 2-1 favorite betting choice in the field of seven. Sword Dancer (gr. IT) winner Better Talk Now settled for fourth after making a good move in the stretch but tiring late.
Epalo opened up a one-length lead after taking the opening quarter mile in :24 2/5. He continued to lead through easy fractions of :50, 1:14 2/5 and 1:38. At the head of the stretch, Starke got away from his stablemate and the pace prompting Balto Star, opening up by three lengths with a furlong to go. but it wasn't enough to hold off Magistretti.
"I think (previous trainer) Neville Callaghan did a great job with this horse," winning trainer Patrick Biancone said. "He brought him in very well for the (Arlington) Million, and I just kept doing what he was doing. The horse ran roughly the same race he ran in the Million. I'm lucky to have this horse come into my stable. He seems to have a great kick. He was in a little trouble at the quarter-pole, but when he switched leads, he really accelerated."
Biancone said the 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont Oct. 2 is the next likely start for Miagistretti, with the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30 the big goal.
The Kentucky bred, who is out of the Deputy Minister mare Ms. Strike Zone and was purchased for $150,000 at Keeneland in November 2000, won for the fourth time in 14 lifetime starts. The $300,000 winner's share increased his earnings to $1,000,117.
In the Arlington Million, he overcame post 12 and benefited from a disqualification of winner Powerscourt that moved him from third to second.
Epalo will likely head back to Germany and point for either Australia's Cox Plate (Aus-I) or Hong Kong.
"He ran very well," said trainer Andreas Schutz. "He just wasn't able to stay the trip. If it were 10 furlongs, he would have won. It was just a furlong too long. We couldn't be happier about the horse. I wish we didn't have all that rain earlier this week. The plan was to set the pace, but I didn't think it would be that easy. He'll go back to Germany on Tuesday to recover from his American trip."
The second choice, Magistretti paid $8.30, $3.90 and $3. Epalo returned $3.30 and $3.40 with King's Drama $3.40 to show. The exacta was $20.20.
Better Talk Now, Request for Parole, Ballingarry, Balto Star and Greek Sun completed the order of finish.