Already a graded stakes winner overseas, Godolphin Stable’s Tam Lin became a grade II winner on American soil when he wore down Forefathers in upper stretch and sped away to a convincing 4 1/4-length victory Sept. 28 in the $250,000 Kelso Handicap (VIDEO) on the Belmont turf.
Ridden patiently by Javier Castellano, Tam Lin pressed the pace set by Forefathers for six furlongs and despite going wide into the turn, took over before the eighth-pole. The 5-year-old gelding pulled away with ease in the final furlong. The final time for a mile on the ‘soft’ turf was 1:39.13.
Stalingrad, who entered off a narrow defeat in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga and was sent off as the lukewarm 2-1 favorite, gave chase in the stretch but settled for second under Channing Hill. Operation Red Dawn rallied from last to get third in a field of six.
Tam Lin entered the Kelso off a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Aug. 23 Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT) where he went off as the favorite. Prior to that he was second to Kip Deville in the Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 13 at Belmont and in June won the ungraded Scottish Monk Stakes by a nose over Cosmonaut on the same ground.
The son of Selkirk shipped to the states for the first time at the beginning of the year and was placed in the barn of trainer Saeed bin Suroor. In England, he won the group III Totesport.com Winter Hill Stakes in 2006 and was 4-2-1 from 10 starts for trainer Michael Stoute.
Forefathers fought for the early lead under Kent Desormeaux and had things to himself while posting splits of :23.81, :47.85 and 1:14.06. Tam Lin was just behind in second, with Stalingrad, Giant Wrecker and Media Play giving chase. Tam Lin drew even with the leader nearing the three-sixteenths-pole and pulled away from the field when he reached the top of the lane.
“This horse isn’t easy to ride, but I get along with him,” said Castellano, who rode him in the Scottish Monk score. “Today, he was very relaxed and comfortable. And in the post parade, he was so kind. I think (assistant trainer) Rick Mettee did a great job with this horse. The key to the race today was that he was so relaxed. We expected to be four or five lengths behind the lead, but when we were right behind the leaders, I didn’t want fight with him. Just let him enjoy the trip. I guess he really liked the course today.”
Mettee said: “He really likes it here at Belmont Park. He really doesn’t corner that well. We thought the one-turn, seven-eighths (at Woodbine) would be good for him, but he never settled. He’s a tough horse to ride because he runs with his head up and pulls hard.
“Saeed and I did not discuss what is next for him. Obviously, a two-turn race at Santa Anita with a full field would be completely different and I don’t know if that would really suit him.”
The winner paid $6.90, $3.50 and $2.50. The exacta (3-6) returned $21.40, while the trifecta (3-6-5) netted $43.20.
Bred by Gainsborough Stud Management and out of the Rainbow Quest mare La Nuit Rose, Tam Lin is now 6-3-2 from 16 starts and has earned $406,818.
Forefathers was fourth, followed by Giant Wrecker and Media Play.