In his first two-turn start, undefeated Samraat extinguished any doubts about his ability to handle route racing with a scintillating 16 3/4-length score in the $100,000 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds Dec. 18 at Aqueduct (VIDEO).
Away quickly from his inside post, the dark bay or brown colt by Noble Causeway established command of the race just a few strides out of the starting gate and led the field through fractions of :24.55 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and :49.73 for the half. Leaving the far turn, the 7-10 favorite promptly bounded away from the field without being asked by jockey Jose Ortiz. Samraat continued to widen his advantage while under only light encouragement.
Bigger spots may be on the horizon for Samraat, a homebred for My Meadowview Farm.
"I originally was thinking the Jerome (gr. II, Jan. 4), but we moved this back three days because of the weather and it was going to be tight, anyway, so I'm not sure we make it," said winning trainer Rick Violette. "I could even send him to Florida for a month just to keep him in training and get him out of the cold weather, then bring him up for the spot after that, which is the Withers (gr. III, Feb. 1). I think we might have to test open company. If not his next start, then the start after that."
The Damon Runyon was Samraat's third victory in as many tries. He completed the mile and 70 yards in 1:44.09 on a track listed as good and paid $3.40 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show.
Finishing a distant second in his first attempt on dirt was the maiden Forever Utopia. Ridden by jockey Eddie Castro, the son of Utopia tracked the early lead along the inside, but could not keep pace with the winner in the stretch and had to settle for his fourth second-place finish in five starts. He returned $6.10 to place and $3.10 to show.
It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to third-place finisher Deceived ($2.30 to show), who had an eventful trip after lunging at the break, then rushing up to join the leaders on the backstretch.