J Be K Draws Away in Woody Stephens
J Be K got hooked early but drew off to an easy victory under Garrett Gomez in the $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II)(VIDEO) on the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day undercard. It was a win that punched his ticket to the Aug. 23 NetJets King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I), said owner Ahmed Zayat.
"We have always thought so highly of him," Zayat said. "He is a phenomenal sprinter and showed it here. He’s getting better and maturing each time. (Trainer) Steve (Asmussen) has done a phenomenal job, and Bob Baffert did a great job giving this horse his foundation. If he continues to stay healthy, he’ll be back in Saratoga for the (NetJets) King’s Bishop.”
The 3-year-old son of Silver Deputy shot right to the lead in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens, but was quickly engaged by True Quality and Cornelio Velasquez. They ran together through an opening quarter in :22.29 and a half in :44.89. Gomez then pushed the button, and J Be K spurted away to a 5 ½ length score.The final time was 1:21.85.
"He is a speed-tactical horse," Gomez said. "He doesn’t need the lead. He was sharp and allowed me to do what I needed to do. He has grown so much between his last race and this one. He keeps getting stronger. I was happy with the way he ran today.”
Silver Edition came on to be second and True Quality hung tough for third, losing the place spot by just a nose. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Majestic Warrior in fourth.
J Be K paid $7.20, $4.80, and $3.80. Silver Edition returned $8.60 and $6.20, while True Quality was worth $9.40.
It was the fourth win in six starts for the lightly-raced runner. He made headlines at Saratoga last summer when he burned up the track in his 2-year-old debut. Under the care of Baffert at that time, he went 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.13, crushing his rivals by 7 1/2 lengths.
The Woody Stephens is named for the late trainer who holds perhaps the greatest record in all of Thoroughbred racing, saddling the winner of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in five consecutive years.
J Be K was bred in Kentucky by Glory Days Breeding out of the Valid Wager mare Major Wager and purchased as a juvenile at the Fasig-Tipton February sale for $350,000. Prior to the Woody Stephens, he ran second in the April 26 Withers Stakes (gr. III) after winning the April 5 Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III), both at Aqueduct.
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