Odds-on choice Silver Train outfought War Front by a neck in a gritty stretch duel to capture the $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) over seven furlongs at Belmont Park Sunday.
Returning to the scene of his Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) victory in his last start May 29, Silver Train caused his backers some anguish, no doubt, when he was eased back on the turn after battling along the inside with the pacesetting Anew and War Front. But jockey Edgar Prado guided the 4-year-old son of Old Trieste to the outside, and he eventually got back on even terms with the leaders in the stretch.
As Anew fell out of contention, Silver Train collared War Front and John Velazquez at the furlong marker and held his rival off in a spirited battle to the wire. The final time was a strong 1:21 3/5.
Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. for new owner Four Roses Thoroughbreds, Silver Train has now won five of seven starts at Belmont, where he also captured the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last fall. The dark brown colt has won six of 15 lifetime with earnings of $1,217,345.
Silver Train will now get a rest through August and will point to Belmont Park's fall meet.
"I'm going to give him the (rest of the) summer off and get him ready for the Vosburgh," Dutrow said. "That's the only thing we've got left to do with him. I'm not going to take him to another track. I know it don't work. The Vosburgh is a grade I, it's here at this track and we've got to do it. He'll be fresh and ready."
The $400,000 Vosburgh on Oct. 7 is run at six furlongs.
Anew, ridden by Alan Garcia, held a tenuous lead over War Front through fractions of :23 and :45 1/5 before tiring. Silver Train broke from the rail and was a battling third on the inside until taken back by Prado.
"I was figuring that Edgar was just getting him out on the turn," said Dutrow. "Edgar told me he just wasn't happy in there."
Big Apple Daddy lacked much response after chasing the pacesetters for Richard Migliore but got third, six lengths behind War Front. Then came Anew, Mach Speed, and Voodoo. Sir Greeley scratched.
Silver Train paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.10. War Front, who had been sidelined since running second in Gulfstream's Deputy Minister Handicap (gr. III) in February for trainer Allen Jerkens, returned $3.80 and $3.10 in a determined effort. The New York-bred Big Apple Daddy, coming off a seven-furlong stakes win at Philadelphia Park, was $2.90 to show.
Prado, who is on his way to Peru for a memorial for the one-year anniversary of his mother's death, will be back to ride here on Wednesday for the final week of racing this meet.