By Karen M. Johnson
Trainer Dominic Galluscio had a sense of déjà vu as he stood in the winner’s circle following the $250,000 Empire Classic at Belmont Park Oct. 20. Last year, Galluscio posted an upset with Organizer. This year, he pulled off another Classic surprise with Dr. V’s Magic, who was 15-1.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Dr. V’s Magic launched a determined rally early in the stretch for a half-length victory. Who What Win was a game second, 2 3/4 lengths in front of Run Red Run in third.
Naughty New Yorker, the 6-5 favorite, finished fourth in the nine-horse field.
Galluscio said Dr. V’s Magic, a 3-year-old, had some issues with the starting gate, but schooling sorted those problems out.
“We worked with Roy (Williamson, NYRA starter) and the assistant starters, and it really paid off,” Galluscio said. “He didn’t like having a man in the gate; he would shy away from the assistant at the start.”
Dr. V’s Magic, a son of Raffie’s Majesty, completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.70 over the main track, which was labeled fast. The winner returned $32.80. The $2 exacta with Who What Win returned $272.50.
Like Organizer, Dr. V’s Magic is owned and bred by Majesty Stud.
The Empire Classic was one of eight stakes for New York-breds on the afternoon card.
Another surprising outcome during the day was Big Truck’s defeat in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for 2-year-old males. The undefeated Big Truck was impressive in two starts before running in the one-mile Sleepy Hollow, but failed to duplicate those efforts when finishing third as the 1-4 favorite.
Giant Moon, ridden by Desormeaux, won the race by a head over Coastal Drive. It was another neck back to Big Truck in third. The winner returned $9.80 and covered the distance in 1:38.48 over a good track. Earlier in the card, the main track was listed as good because of heavy rain that fell on Friday.
Giant Moon, a son of Giant’s Causeway, is owned by Albert Fried Jr., his breeder. Richard Schosberg trained the winner.
Big Truck, with Ramon Dominguez aboard, had a narrow lead at the quarter pole, but Giant Moon fought back bravely on the rail. Coastal Drive closed late on the outside to nip the place spot from the favorite.
Barclay Tagg, Big Truck’s trainer, said, “I got no excuse. I thought he was a better horse than that. Coming off the turn (I knew we were in trouble), but I still thought he would draw away.”
Al Basha unleashed a furious late run to wear down Spurred in the final yards of the $150,000 Mohawk Handicap over the soft inner turf. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Al Basha came from last in the 1 1/8-mile race for a half-length win. The winner returned $15.60 and covered the distance in 1:53.73.
Juror, the Mohawk favorite, finished last in the nine-horse field.
Al Basha, trained by Angel Penna Jr. for Bembridge Farm, is a 3-year-old son of Aljabr. The Mohawk was Al Basha’s first win in a stakes.
Rewrite won the $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap from off the pace with Garrett Gomez aboard. Rewrite, running as the second choice, defeated Factual Contender by a neck. J’ray, the favorite, finished fourth in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares. The final time was 1:53.59.
Rewrite, a 4-year-old daughter of Editor’s Note, is owned by Amherst Stable LLC and trained by Christophe Clement. She paid $7.60.
At odds of nearly 15-1, Karakorum Starlet posted an upset in the $125,000 Iroquois with her neck win in the seven-furlong race. Karakorum Starlet, ridden by Gomez, set the pace and repelled a challenge from the runner-up, Mama Theresa, in the stretch. The winner, who is owned by Karakorum Farm and trained by Jeff Odintz, returned $31.80. She completed the distance in 1:24.04 over a track labeled good.
Stormin Normandy, the 8-5 favorite, crossed the finish line a neck in front of Ferocious Fires in the $125,000 Hudson Handicap, but was disqualified and placed second for drifting out in the stretch of the six-furlong race and impeding the runner-up. The stewards immediately flashed the inquiry sign after the horses crossed the finish line and made the decision to disqualify Stormin Normandy, who was ridden by Bejarano, after several minutes of deliberation.
Ferocious Fires, a 4-year-old son of Lite the Fuse owned by Sanford Goldfarb, Ira Davis, and William Vidro, returned $12. The final time was 1:09.41. Ferocious Fires was ridden by Dominquez and is trained by Tony Dutrow, whose brother, Richard, saddled Stormin Normandy.
Expect the End won her third consecutive restricted stakes in the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies with a 5 3/4-length score. Expect the End, ridden by Bejarano, wired the field in the one-mile dirt race and completed the distance in 1:38.01. A daughter or Precise End, Expect the End returned $7.70 as the second choice. She is trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. and owned by IEAH Stables, Sanford Goldfarb, Michael Dubb, and Cast of Characters Stable.