In a field of eight going 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf course, no horse was more than 10-1 on the tote board, other than Teaks North, who was making his season debut for trainer Justin Sallusto. The 4-year-old son of Northern Afleet was based in New York for nearly all of 2010 with four wins—two of them stakes—to show from eight starts. He was 0-for-2 in graded stakes company, including a third in the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) last November on dirt. In fact, his final three starts of last year came on the main track.
With Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard, Teaks North raced in sixth through the early going as Little Mike showed the way through splits of :23.52, :47.40, and 1:10.48. Get Stormy, who had pressed the pace closely throughout, took the lead at the top of the stretch. Though he began to wear down Little Mike, Smart Bid was able to sneak through along the hedge under Edgar Prado and seemed destined for victory at 8-1.
But Teaks North, who saved ground until being angled out wide for his stretch run, was charging down the center of the course and picking off the leaders. He reached Smart Bid in the final yards and got the wire first by a nose. The final time was 1:46.39.
Smart Bid settled for second, one length in front of Get Stormy and Javier Castellano. Even-money choice Battle of Hastings checked in fourth.
Owned by Jules Boutelle, Teaks North recorded both of his previos stakes win at Monmouth Park. He scored the Restoration Stakes last August on turf and the Big Brown Stakes Oct. 30 on dirt. The win, his fifth in 12 lifetime starts, upped his earnings to $364,400.
The winner was bred in Florida by Brylynn Farms. He is out of the High Honors mare Teaksberry Road.
“This horse came to me last February," Sallusto said. "He’s been a top horse for us and won stakes on dirt and turf. We were between running him in the Sunshine Millions Turf last weekend at Santa Anita or this race and decided this race might come up easier, and it looks like we made the right decision. We just shipped in on Wednesday. We haven’t decided on anything next for him just yet.”
Teaks North paid $52.60, $19.20, and $10.20. The exacta (5-1) returned $423.60 and the trifecta (5-1-2) was worth $1,344.70 for $1.