Making her first start in America, Noel O’Callaghan’s Alexander Tango rated far off the pace and then came charging down the middle of the Belmont Park turf stretch to capture the $250,000 Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) by three-quarters of a length Sept. 8.
Bred in Ireland by Philip Brady, Alexander Tango scored for the third time in her last five starts, this one coming under the hands of jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode the 3-year-old filly for the first time. The daughter of Danehill Dancer-House in Wood had won an Irish group III test back in May and also took the Kilboy Estate Stakes July 15 at Curragh. Most recently, she was second in the Royal Whip Stakes (Ire-II) Aug. 12.
In the 1 1/8-mile Garden City, Alexander Tango stayed well back of pacesetter New Edition, who led soft fractions of :25.80 for the opening quarter and :50.32 for a half-mile. Sharp Susan, Street Sounds and Bit of Whimsy stalked the pace for most of the way.
As the field of 10 turned for home, WinStar Farm’s Sharp Susan took a short advantage and Bit of Whimsy, ridden three-wide by Javier Castellano, charged alongside in the final sixteenth. While the two fillies engaged in a duel, Bridgmohan was steering Alexander Tango, who was in ninth place after three-quarters, five-wide and past a host of challengers, eventually zipping past the frontrunners in the final strides.
“My filly was very relaxed,” Bridgmohan said. “She’s used to those kinds of races in Europe, where they go slow and pick it up late. I was very confident at the eighth pole. Once she got daylight, she just picked it up and ran home.”
Costume (GB) also moved well in the final going, converging with Sharp Susan and Bit of Whimsy at the wire for a three-way photo for second. The place was eventually earned by Joyce Young and Gerald McManis’ Bit of Whimsy, at odds of 13-1. Sharp Susan got show.
Going off at odds of 5-1, Alexander Tango paid $13.60 to win. It was her fourth win in 11 lifetime starts.
“We wanted to go with a local rider because she got in light and some of the European riders would have had trouble making weight,” said James Stack, assistant to trainer Tommy Stack, his father. “Ideally, we wanted to be mid-pack early. We thought she would be well-suited for American racing, because she runs best with a good pace in front of her. I thought we were done on the backstretch; the pace was slow and she was farther back than I thought she would be.”
The exacta (7-5) paid $231. The final time was 1:48.97.
Rutherienne, who entered off two consecutive victories and was the betting favorite, never fired and finished last.