Kid Cruz benefited from a sizzling early pace to rally from last to first to defeat favored Legend by 3 1/4 lengths in the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard June 7 at Belmont Park (VIDEO).
A 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid whose connections opted for the Easy Goer over the Belmont, Kid Cruz broke at the rear of the nine-horse field under Irad Ortiz Jr., as Life in Shambles and Joel Rosario sizzled through early fractions while being closely trailed by longshot Howl.
As the leaders took the field through fractions of :22.68, :45.68, and 1:10.18 for six furlongs, Kid Cruz was content to run evenly in the rear. The colt began to make his run rounding the turn as Ortiz deftly moved his mount to the rail and rallied turning for home.
With Misconnect and Javier Castellano taking the lead at the top of the stretch, Ortiz again made a smart move, taking Kid Cruz through a crowd to the far outside and kicked clear after a mile was completed in 1:34.99.
With the rest of the field gaining on the early leaders, Kid Cruz continued on to win the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:41.12. The 3-1 second choice, Kid Cruz paid $8.90, $4.10, and $2.10, with Legend, the 2-1 favorite returning $3.80 and $2.80. Life in Shambles held third, paying $3.20. The order was completed by Misconnect, Souper Lucky, Pass the Coffee, Effinex, No Surrender, and Howl.
Trained by Linda Rice for Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable, Kid Cruz has won four of seven starts and earned $248,375.
The colt won the Private Terms Stakes and Federico Tesio Stakes, both at Pimlico Race Course, before finishing a flat eighth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) won by Triple Crown contender California Chrome.
Bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, Kid Cruz was purchased by Black Swan Stable for $80,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. The colt was claimed by Rice on behalf of Vina Del Mar for $50,000 when he broke his maiden at Aqueduct Racetrack in his second career start Nov. 22. Black Swan eventually bought back into the colt.
"This is terrific," Rice said. "He needed it, we needed it, and we want to keep him going in the right direction. He made an inside-outside move. In the past, he's been making a big, sweeping move and losing ground on the turn, but Irad saved ground on the inside, made the inside-outside move, and then when I saw the half, it was our race to lose.
"We'll probably point to the Dwyer (gr. II, July 5) and keep trying to let him learn his craft."
"(Rice) told me to sit back, and that's what I did," Ortiz said. "I had horse, and, when I asked him, he took off. I just had to find a spot and get out."