With main rival Country Star scratched after throwing her jockey while in the starting gate, Godolphin's Music Note won the $237,500 Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) in little more than a walkover over three rivals at Belmont Park Sept. 13.
Music Note, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, won her third grade I race at Belmont this year and her fourth in five starts overall at the big oval while held under wraps by jockey Javier Castellano. She was sent off at odds of 1-20.
Music Note, racing on the outside in third, allowed Mega and Awesome I Am to set the pace for the first six furlongs before taking over on the turn for home. She held a substantial lead at the head of the lane and won in a gallop by 9 1/2 lengths over Hamsa. Castellano was absolutely frigid on her down the homestretch.
But the race, for all intents, was decided in the starting gate. Waiting for the break, Music Note was fractious in her stall, bumping into the gate door and opening it before the start. While an assistant starter reset her door, Country Star suddenly reared in her stall, flipped and sent jockey John Velazquez airborne behind the gate.
Country Star, a two-time grade I winner as a 2-year-old on the comeback trail for trainer Bobby Frankel, was scratched by stewards on the advice of a track veterinarian. There was no immediate word on the condition of either Velazquez and Country Star.
“There was so much noise, she thought it was ready to go and she hit the gate," Castellano said. "The vet checked her out and she was okay. Unfortunately, the other filly (Country Star) flipped all the way to the back and was scratched.
“I had a great post on the outside. She did it the right way today. She was comfortable and relaxed. At the three-eighths pole, she grabbed the bit and she wanted to go. I took care of her today for her next race.”
The final time for the 1 1/8-mile distance for 3-year-old fillies was 1:50 2/5 on a track rated good following quarter-mile fractions of :24.56, :48.18 and 1:12.67.
Music Note was coming off a hard-fought loss by a head to division leader Proud Spell in Saratoga's Alabama Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 16 and probably wasn't able to gain much ground with this effort, impressive as it was. The daughter of A.P. indy has only that one defeat in five starts this year and clicked off grade I wins in the Mother Goose (in which she defeated Proud Spell) and the Coaching Club American Oaks prior to the Gazelle, all coming at Belmont.
“It was a brilliant result," said bin Suroor of the Gazelle. "It was an easy, impressive win. She’s a tough filly, one of the best two or three in the country.” He added that Music Note would take on older fillies and mares in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.
Overall, the bay Kentucky-bred filly has won five of seven starts with earnings of $668,000. Gainsborough Farm bred the winner, who is out of the Sadler's Wells mare Note Musicale.
With the late scratch, there was no show wagering. Music Note paid $2.10 and $2.10. Hamsa returned $2.50 to place while distancing third-place finisher Awesome I Am by 9 3/4 lengths. Mega trailed.