Starlight Partners Take the Points was rated off the leaders and took the lead rounding the turn to post a game head victory over Straight Story in the $300,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park on Oct. 10 (VIDEO).
Ridden by Edgar Prado for trainer Todd Pletcher, Take the Points ran along in fourth as favored Courageous Cat led through a quarter mile in 24.84 seconds before he relinquished the lead to Chapin Beach. Take the Points made a challenge leaving the half-mile pole, moved between horses to assume a narrow lead on the turn and battled with Straight Story in the stretch before holding off the challenger for the victory. The son of Even the Score completed 1 1/8 miles over a turf course rated firm in 1:48.51.
The winner paid $7.40, $3.80, and $2.30 as the second choice in the seven-horse field. Runner-up Straight Story, with Javier Castellano aboard, was worth $6.70 and $2.90 and Courageous Cat, the favorite ridden by Ramon Dominguez, paid $2.30.
“It didn’t quite unfold the first quarter of a mile the way we thought it would,” Pletcher said. “We thought Mark Hennig’s horse (No. 5, Chapin Beach) would probably be on the lead. (Take the Points) got away a little slow and kind of swept around the outside, but it looked like he settled down the backside well and had a good trip from there.
“I think this horse is really finding himself now and learning how to run and learning how to finish off a race,” the trainer said, referring to the Jamaica and a victory in Arlington Park’s Secretariat (gr. IT) previous to the Oct. 10 victory.
“He got a little rank on me early,” Prado said. “I thought I was going to be about 10 lengths behind. There was a lot of speed in the race, but (Chapin Beach) got left and (Straight Story) didn’t want to go to the lead – the pace was very moderate. He was very comfortable, and he was doing everything easily. He’s a horse that can run on both dirt and turf. The times he was running on dirt, he was getting mature, he was getting himself together. I think now he’s a better horse than before.”
With the victory, Take the Points improved to 4-2-1 in 10 starts, with earnings of $685,600. An early contender on this year’s Triple Crown trail, Take the Points was converted into a turf horse after finishing 13 th in the BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I). In his first grass effort, the 3-year-old was fourth in the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) and then third, beaten only a half-length, in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) before the Secretariat.
Pletcher said Starlight Partners’ Jack Wolf faces a dilemma on where to go next with Take the Points. The logical next step, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, are a question mark since the Jamaica winner is not Breeders’ Cup eligible. The trainer said the colt could be supplemented to the Cup and that the Nov. 29 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) was also an option.
Produced from the Fred Astaire mare Ginger Ginger, Take the Points was bred in Kentucky by Phoenix Farm.