Able to avoid the early pace duel, overlooked Park Avenue Ball swept up on the outside of his rivals in upper stretch and went on to post a comfortable three-length victory in the $300,000 Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont Park Sunday.
The longest shot in the field of six at odds of 10-1, jockey Javier Castellano guided the New Jersey-bred son of Citidancer
home in a time of 1:38 4/5 for the one-mile event for 2-year-olds.
Winning trainer Jim Ryerson wouldn't commit to taking the colt to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
"I don't know if he's ready for two turns," he said immediately afterward. "We'll have to talk about it.
"We'll have to consider the Champagne because it is a big, one-turn race and he just won over the track."
The 133rd running of the $500,00 Champagne (gr. I) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 mile will be run at Belmont Oct. 9.
Ryerson was surprised his horse was ignored by the bettors.
"I thought the race was wide-open. I thought he could get a mile if he was allowed to settle," said Ryerson. "The jockey did a great job. I was really happy that, down the backside, they were four abreast and he was covered up. He wanted to get back in it, but that first half-mile really helped him finish. I knew the horse would make his move when he was asked.
Owned by Char-Mari Stable, Park Avenue Ball won for the third time in four starts. His only blemish came in the Sapling (gr. III) at Monmouth Park Aug. 28, his last start, when the chestnut went to the lead in the stretch but could not hold off longshot Evil Minister, finishing second by a half-length at odds of 2-1.
Even-money favorite Fusaichi Rock Star broke a bit awkwardly for Kent Desormeaux and the $825,000 Bob Baffert-trained colt was rushed up to contend with pacesetting Upscaled, who dueled with the filly Comacina through an opening quarter-mile of :24. Fusaichi Rock Star challenged for the lead on the outside through a half-mile in :46 4/5 and six furlongs in 1:12 1/5. But he faded out of the money, along with Upscaled, in the stretch.
Park Avenue angled out four wide for the stretch drive and got the first run on the other closers in the field, getting the lead in upper stretch.
"He broke sharp out of the gate," Castellano said. "I wanted to settle him down today to see if he could go a mile. He settled good behind the horses. I followed t(Fusaichi Rock Star) right behind to the quarter pole. I had plenty of horse. When he switched leads, he took off."
In his second start, Wallstreet Scandal, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, challenged for the lead along the inside early, was eased back and rallied on the outside in the stretch to finish second.
"I thought he ran well," trainer Rick Violette Jr. said. "He gave a big effort, especially from stretching out from five and a half furlongs to a mile. He gave up a lot of experience going into the race, but I'm very happy with his effort."
Evil Minister, Juan Pimentel aboard, rallied mildly in the stretch to be third after contesting the early pace and falling back nearing the turn.
The $180,000 winner's share increased Park Avenue Ball's career earnings to $263,600.
Park Avenue, who paid $23.60, $9.30 and $5.20, is out of the Cahill Road mare Road to the Ball. C.J. Hesse Inc. bred him.
Wallstreet Scandal, the second choice in the field, returned $4.60 and $3.50. Evil Minister's show was $5.10. The exacta was worth $77.50.
Upscaled was fourth, followed by Fusaichi Rock Star and Comacina.
Bafftert said he expected more from Fusaichi Rock Star, a maiden winner at Del Mar five weeks ago who was making only his third start.
"I think he lost his air, because he was really tired," said Baffert. "He was pretty fresh today. When he broke, he just kind of grabbed (Desormeaux) to the lead. I think he's a free-running horse. I think you just have to let him run. We'll do some work with him and give him a shot in the Champagne."