John Oxley's Beautiful Pleasure dominated her five rivals Saturday at Belmont Park, winning the $250,000 Hempstead Handicap (gr. I) by 7 1/4 lengths. Under a hand ride by jockey Jorge Chavez, Beautiful Pleasure stopped the clock in 1:41.54 for the 1 1/16 miles over a fast track.
Beautiful Pleasure broke cleanly with chief rival Roza Robata just to her inside. Beautiful Pleasure pulled herself to the front as they left the chute and entered the main track. While racing a bit wide, as she seems to prefer, Beautiful Pleasure opened a 2 1/2-length lead after a 1/4-mile run in :23.11. As she entered the turn, the reigning older distaff champion had a widening five-length advantage with Chavez motionless in the stirrups. The stretch drive was a replay of her win in the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) in May, with Chavez looking over his left shoulder and then under his right and seeing no challenge forthcoming.
"Anyone could have ridden her," said Chavez. "There was no sense fighting her, she runs the way she wants. The fractions were fast but she did it on her own."
Pentatonic finished second, a length ahead of Roza Robata. Biogio's Rose came home fourth, followed by Sazarac Jazz and Nikita.
"I was very impressed with the race that Beautiful Pleasure ran," said Dale Romans, trainer of Roza Robata. "We'll probably give her a little rest and then point for the races at Saratoga, but not against Heritage of Gold or Beautiful Pleasure."
Beautiful Pleasure (Maudlin--Beautiful Bid, by Baldski) was bred in Florida by Farnsworth Farms. She earned $150,000 for the win, her ninth in 17 career starts. The victory improved her career record at Belmont Park to four wins and one second from six starts. The 5-year-old also won the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II), the Beldame (gr. I), and the Matron (gr. I) at Belmont and finished second to Sister Act in last year's renewal of the Hempstead.
As the 1-4 favorite, the John Ward Jr. trainee returned $2.50, $2.20, and $2.10. The winning exacta combination paid $15.80.
"This is an unbelievable improvement over where she was at this time last year," said Ward. "We'll be glad to get her to Saratoga." Both Beautiful Pleasure and Heritage of Gold are expected to start next in the Go For Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga July 30. (Chart, Equibase