Check the Label burst through an opening between horses in a crowded stretch to win the $150,000 Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) over the Belmont Park inner turf course May 31.
The 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies preceded the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) on the Belmont Park program. Graham Motion, who trains Check the Label, won the Eatontown Handicap (gr. IIIT) with Gypsy's Warning at Monmouth Park just a moment after Check the Label's 1 1/2-length triumph over Crescenda in the Sands Point. The final time was 1:47.16 over a firm course. Favored Negligee finished third.
"She’s a really nice filly who’s improving, too," Motion said. "I thought at the top of the stretch she might be in trouble, but she is good enough that she was able to overcome it. This filly has changed more than any other I have in the barn; she just keeps getting better, so it’s really exciting. I really haven’t looked beyond this race. We have plenty of options.”
Ridden patiently by Ramon Dominguez, Check the Label stalked the pace in fourth at the rail as Ultimate Class, shadowed by More Is Better and Negligee, showed the way through even fractions of :23.69, :47.15, and 1:10.76.
Check the Label had nowhere to go in upper stretch and was steadied by Dominguez, but room finally appeared approaching mid-stretch after Ultimate Class gave way. Check the Label responded gamely to split rivals and got the advantage over Negligee, ridden by John Velazquez.
She outran the fast-closing Crescenda, rallying from last at the middle of the track with Eibar Coa aboard, to win comfortably in the end.
“At the three-eighths there was a little bit of concern because I knew (Ultimate Class and More is Better) wouldn’t necessarily keep going, and sure enough I found myself on heels, trying to find a way through," Dominguez said. "I was just pleased that after having to check my filly she was able to be there for me.”
Crescenda ran second by 2 1/4 lengths over Negligee, who weakened in the final sixteenth.
Brereton C. Jones' homebred Check the Label earned her fourth win in 11 starts and boosted her earnings to $253,927. The bay daughter of Stormin Fever --Don't Trick Her, by Mazel Trick, won the one-mile Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in her last start April 15.
Sent off as the second choice, Check the Label carried co-top weight of 121 pounds and paid $7.40, $3.80, and $2.80 while keying a $75 exacta. Crescenda, in her stakes debut for trainer Michael McDonald, returned $9.50 and $5.10 in her fourth lifetime start. Two-to-one choice Negligee, a grade I winner over Keeneland's Polytrack making her second turf start for trainer John Terranova, was $2.60 to show.
Khancord Kid finished fourth, followed by More Is Better, Hit it Rich, and Ultimate Class. Strike It Rich was scratched.