Caixa Eletronica took advantage of a blistering early pace to rally in the stretch for a three-quarters of a length victory in the $400,000 True North Handicap (gr. II) on the Belmont Stakes card June 8 (VIDEO).
The six-furlong sprint was marred by a breakdown sustained by Giant Ryan, who was battling for the lead at the head of the stretch when he appeared to take a bad step.
Pacific Ocean and Joel Rosario jumped out to the early lead in the six-furlong sprint and was pushed by Giant Ryan through early fractions of :21.80 and :44.58 through the first half mile. As the field rounded the turn, Giant Ryan continued to put pressure on the leader and took over at the top of the stretch, with five-eighths of a mile completed in :56.64.
As he battled for the lead, Giant Ryan was suddenly pulled up in distress by jockey Willie Martinez. The horse staggered forward for a few yards and fell to the ground, with the rider jumping off.
As Giant Ryan began to back up, Justin Phillip and jockey John Velazquez took over before being caught by Javier Castellano and Caixa Eletronica, who had been running well off the pacesetters. Caixa Eletronica mounted a sustained drive to win by three quarters of a length in final time of 1:09.52. Justin Phillip held second by three-quarters of length over Smiling Tiger .
Giant Ryan was pulled with about an eighth of a mile remaining, jockey Willie Martinez jumping off. The rider walked off the track under his own power and did not appear to be injured.
Giant Ryan, making his first start since finishing fifth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) March 31, was taken by equine ambulance to trainer Bisnath Parboo’s barn. Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian for Belmont Stakes day, reported the 6-year-old grade I winner had fractured both sesamoids in his left front ankle and had ligament damage. Later in the day, Parboo announced the horse was being shipped to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center for surgey in order to save him as a stallion.
Caixa Eletronica paid $9.80, $4.80, and $3.30. Justin Phillip was worth $10.60 and $5.60, with Smiling Tiger returning $3.50.
A 7-year-old son of Arromanches trained by Todd Pletcher for Repole Stables, Caixa Eletronica has now won 18 of 54 starts, has 18 placings, and earnings of $1,395,705.
The horse, bred in Kentucky by Richard Rowan, was coming off a fourth in Shackleford’s impressive Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) win at Belmont May 28. Previous to the Metropolitan he came from slightly off the pace to draw off to a three-length win in the Charles Town Classic (gr. II).
“He’s an old knocker,” owner Mike Repole said. “He can win at six furlongs, he can win at 1 1/8 miles, he can win a million-dollar race (Charles Town Classic) and he can win a $16,000 starter handicap. This is what horse racing is about. This is a throwback horse to the 1960s and ‘70s. How can you not root for this horse? Running him back on 12 days rest after running against Jackson Bend, Shackleford, Caleb’s Posse … and he comes back here. He was flying. He was down by 22 lengths and I thought, 'Maybe running back in 12 days after the Met Mile was not so smart.' But Todd said he’d been galloping like crazy, drinking like crazy.”
“I had a great trip and the race set up perfectly for me,” Castellano said. “The fractions were what I was hoping for and when I asked him to run, he responded great. He never gave up down the stretch too.”
“I’m proud of him,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of Justin Phillip. “He ran hard, but he ended up second.”
“I thought I had it,” Velazquez said. “I was so home free until somebody else got me. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.”