Music Note, as expected, swept to victory with jockey Rajiv Maragh in the $600,000 Beldame (gr. I) (VIDEO), the first of five grade I stakes at rainy Belmont Park Oct. 3.
Godolphin Stable's standout 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy, sent off at odds of 1-5 in the short field of four betting interests, overtook 2007 Beldame winner Unbridled Belle at mid-stretch and strode out to a 2 1/4-length victory on a track rated "fast as the rain began to fall at Belmont. Unbridled Belle, who set a reserved pace in the 1 1/8-mile event for fillies and mares, finished a clear second, with Copper State taking third. the winning time was 1:48.49.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Music Note has back-to-back grade I victories now after winning Saratoga's Ballerina Stakes (gr. I) in her most recent start Aug. 29. She could wind up the favorite in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, a race she finished third in last year.
Music Note rated along the inside as the Team Valor International entry of Unbridled Belle, on the lead for Ramon Dominguez, and Captain's Lover, on the outside of Music Note, kept the favorite pinned while they dictated the going through fractions of :24.24, :47.99 and 1:11.66.
Dominguez was comfortably in front as Unbridled Belle, racing with blinkers off, glided past the the three-eighths pole. But Music Note picked up the pressure, angling out slightly in striking position to the outside of Unbridled Belle as Captain's Lover dropped back with a quarter-mile to run. Music Note drew even with Unbridled Belle in upper stretch and edged away under a vigorous hand ride, Maragh looking over his shoulder near the eighth pole for any sign of danger.
“It was good race riding on the part of the entry’s riders," said Rick Metee, assistant trainer to bin Suroor. "It wasn’t unexpected, but luckily she got separation off the turn. I was a little concerned about how well Unbridled Belle was traveling. When they got head-to-head, Ramon (on Unbridled Belle) had gone to the stick and Rajiv had not. This is the fifth grade 1 for this filly and four of them are here (at Belmont)."
"Once I was behind the horses, she was getting into a nice, high cruising speed," Maragh said. "I was pretty happy. I knew they were going to spread out at some point in the race. Once they did, that's when I made a move to get clear. There was a lot of racetrack left by the time I got open."
Unbridled Belle, rebounding from a dismal effort in the Personal Ensign (gr. I) for trainer Todd Pletcher at Saratoga Aug. 30, finished more than nine lengths in front of third-place finisher Copper State, with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard. Copper State, who tired after rallying four wide at the quarter pole, finished 13 3/4 lengths in front of Captain's Lover. With Flying Colors trailed throughout.
Music Note won four of six starts last year, including three grade I triumphs, to emerge as one of the nation's top 3-year-old fillies. There was so concern, however, when she ran fifth in her 2009 debut in the Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont in June. She seemed to answer most of those questions, however, with her 5 1/4-length tally in the seven-furlong Ballerina, defeating both Indian Blessing and Informed Decision.
“She was really happy, relaxed, in condition," bin Suroor said of the winner. "She showed her good turn of foot. I was waiting for him to take her outside. When he did, I was happy. We’ll take her to the Breeders’ Cup. Nine furlongs (in the Ladies Classic) will suit her. She looked better than ever.”
Bred by Gainsborough Farm in Kentucky, Music Note is out of the Sadler's Wells mare Note Musicale. The bay filly has won seven of 11 career starts with earnings of $1,417,000 after collecting the Beldame winning purse of $360,000.
Music Note paid $2.50 and $2.10. Unbridled Belle returned $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $3.70. There was no show wagering.