Belmont Race Report (Cont.)
Photo: AP/NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Continued from part 1

KING OF THE GREEN

The anticipated rematch between Forbidden Apple and King Cugat in the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) July 7 never materialized, although King Cugat certainly did his part. As Forbidden Apple, who had held off King Cugat in the June 9 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT), was floundering in midpack, King Cugat was unleashing his patented stretch charge under Jerry Bailey. Only this time, instead of the multiple stakes-winning Forbidden Apple to run down, the son of Kingmambo had only the pesky Michael Dickinson-trained Slew Valley between him and the finish line.

Slew Valley, another hard-knocking Dickinson horse to come off the trainer's Tapeta Farm in Maryland, had been pressed throughout the 1 3/8-mile turf race, but still had a lot left when King Cugat came roaring up on his outside at the three-sixteenths pole after swinging wide turning for home. So, it was the 4-5 favorite trying to run down a 10-1 shot instead of the 2-1 Forbidden Apple. Although Slew Valley had never finished in the money in a stakes, he dug in gamely under John Velazquez, despite having set blazing fractions of 1:10.85 and 1:34.47.

But King Cugat, owned by Centennial Farms, had too much class and stakes experience and he slowly inched away from his stubborn foe to win by a half-length. After 1 1/4 miles in 1:58.52, King Cugat came home his final eighth in :12.10 to cover the distance in a sharp 2:10.62, the second-fastest running ever of the Bowling Green. It was another six lengths back to Man From Wicklow in third, with Forbidden Apple a disappointing fifth in the seven-horse field.

The question now for King Cugat's trainer Bill Mott is, which direction does he go from here?

"I'm not sure this is his best distance," Mott said. "My first impression is that I would be willing to try a mile and a half toward the end of the year. Maybe this is the kind of horse who just does what he has to. We'll run him in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) next."


SUCCESSFUL POKER HAND

Affirmed Success' second career is working out just fine, as he heads for another shot at the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), a race in which he was fourth, beaten a half-length last year. The 7-year-old son of Affirmed, a multiple grade I winner on dirt, captured the Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) at a mile on the turf for the second year in a row on July 4, holding off the strong stretch drives of In Frank's Honor and Union One.

Allowed to cruise along on the lead in :23.49 and :46.53, Affirmed Success, owned by Albert Fried Jr., was able to come home his last quarter in a strong :24.10. Union One made a threatening move after getting clear, but it was In Frank's Honor, charging from last in the six-horse field, who was flying at the wire, falling a neck short in 1:34.60.

"We got away with some soft fractions," Affirmed Success' jockey Jerry Bailey said. "The half in (about) :47 is like walking for him. After that it was pretty simple. He likes to wait on horses, so I knew he wasn't going to collapse."

Trainer Rich Schosberg said he'd prefer to see Affirmed Success "stalking with a target to run at," but added the horse and Bailey are still learning about each other. Affirmed Success seems to like his races spread out, and his next target likely will be the Atto Mile (Can-IT) at Woodbine on Sept. 9.


EXCHANGE RATE SOARS

D. Wayne Lukas insisted Exchange Rate simply couldn't handle the deep, wet track in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) in which he finished 10th, beaten 17 lengths. The son of Danzig proved him right by coming back five weeks later and winning the seven-furlong Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) on July 4.

Exchange Rate, owned by Satish and Anne Sanan's Padua Stables, had always shown promise, but lost his way on the road to last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Only after being put in one-turn races this year has he been able to finally show off his talent. Prior to the Met Mile disaster, he finished a solid third, beaten a length in the Lane's End Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II), run in 1:20.50.

In the Tom Fool, Exchange Rate, 6-1 under Bailey, stalked the pace-setting Here's Zealous through quick fractions of :22.29 and :44.69. When the old New York-bred warrior Say Florida Sandy cut the corner and opened a half-length lead at the eighth pole, the race seemed as good as over. But, as he had done in last year's Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, Exchange Rate found another gear after appearing to be beaten and stormed back to snatch a head victory right on the wire, stopping the timer in 1:21.24. Here's Zealous hung on for third over Bare Outline. Favored Peeping Tom, who had been suffering from foot problems, never was in the race, running fifth and last all the way.

(Chart, Equibase)

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