Starlight Partners’ Take the Points, locked in a stirring stretch duel with Black Bear Island, got up in the final strides under Kent Desormeaux to earn his first graded stakes win in the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) (VIDEO) Aug. 8 on the Arlington Park turf.
A 3-year-old son of Even the Score , Take the Points was making his third start on turf for trainer Todd Pletcher after seven tries on dirt or synthetic surfaces to begin his career. The gray/roan colt was right on the verge of breaking through, as he finished fourth by only 1 1/2 lengths in the June 20 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) and third in the July 18 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), both at Colonial Downs.
In the Secretariat, Black Bear Island and Take the Points stalked a pedestrian pace set by Hoosier Kingdom, who was alone on the lead after running splits of :25.71, :51.35 and 1:16.29 on Arlington’s ‘good’ turf course. Black Bear Island, an Irish-bred son of Sadler’s Wells making his first American start for trainer Aidan O’Brien, took over leaving the far turn under Johnny Murtagh and had a narrow advantage over Take the Points as they hit the top of the lane.
Those two battled for the length of the stretch with Black Bear Island holding a short lead, but Take the Points wore his rival down from the outside and poked a nose in front in the final strides to win by a head. The final time was 2:05.41.
Black Bear Island finished 3 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place Laureate Conductor. Oil Man was fourth in a field of 10.
“He is a wonderful horse,” Desormeaux said. "He has a great stride and showed it throughout the race, and really had a strong stride down the lane. He was comfortable down the backstretch and had a ton of fight at the end. It was a great race, and he ran great."
Take the Points broke his maiden as a 2-year-old in September at Belmont and opened his sophomore campaign with an allowance score at Gulfstream Park, setting himself up for a try at a Triple Crown run. He was runner-up by six lengths in the Sham (gr. III) and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) before finishing last in the May 16 BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I).
Take the Points, bred in Kentucky by Phoenix Farm and out of the Fred Astaire mare Ginger Ginger, has now recorded a 3-2-1 record from 10 starts with earnings of $494,590.
"The distance was a bit of a question mark coming in to this race, but I think he answered that question today,” said Michael McCarthy, assistant trainer for Pletcher.
Sent off as the favorite, Take the Points paid $7.40, $4 and $3.20. The exacta (7-9) returned $35.20 and the trifecta (7-9-4) was $275.20.