Magna Graduate won his second straight stakes Saturday at Belmont, coming from off the pace to win the $287,250 Discovery Handicap (gr. III) over favored Scrappy T.
On a track that had been favoring speed all week, the first two winners Saturday came from off the pace and passed the early leader.
"When I pulled out at the sixteenth-pole, Scrappy T. had a lot on me," winning jockey John Velazquez said. "I was worried I didn't have enough time to catch up to him. When I hit him, he went on."
A 3-year-old colt by Honor Grades, Magna Graduate won the Pegasus Handicap (gr. III) at Meadowlands Sept. 30. He was the 2-1 favorite that day but despite that win went off at odds of better than 5-1 in the Discovery.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Magna Graduate races for Elisabeth Alexander. He paid $13, $5 and $3.50. Scrappy T, ridden by Jerry Bailey, returned $3.40 and $2.60. Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Buzzards Bay, with Garrett Gomez aboard, paid $5.60.
"(Magna Graduate) is really getting good right now," Pletcher said. "We're delighted with his last two races. I don't really know what's next for him."
Scrappy T, the 8-5 choice in the field of 11, held on for second, three-quarters of a length behind the winner, and comebacking Buzzards Bay finished third, 2 3/4 lengths farther back.
The outside horses went for the lead early, with Quadrant, from the 10 hole, and Scrappy T soon taking over the early lead.
Magna Graduate ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.35 after Scrappy T, the Preakness (gr. I) runner-up last spring, recorded fractions in the race of :23.35, :46.88, 1:10.72 and 1:35.11
"He is just so dang-on fresh right now, it's going to take a couple of races to get him back to how he usually runs, said Robert Bailes, trainer of Scrappy T.
Magna Graduate, who was bed in Kentucky by Nicole Zitani and Ramon Rangel, earned $172,350 for his fifth win in 14 lifetime starts, boosting his bankroll to $791,432.
Andromeda's Hero finished fourth, followed by Watchmon, a dead heat between Freedom Isnt Free and War Front, Tani Maru, Quadrant, Scipion and Spanish Mission.