Belmont Stakes day stakes action got off to a rousing start in the $200,000 True North Handicap (gr. II) when Anew scorched to the lead from his outside gate and never relinquished that advantage, cruising to the wire in 1:08.10.
Tiger, part of an entry with Voodoo that went off the 4-5 favorite, finished second, with Spanish Chestnut third. Anew won by 3 1/2 lengths and paid $12.40, $4.30, and $3. Tiger returned $2.50 and $2.20, and Spanish Chestnut's show price was $2.80.
Groovy (1987) holds the stakes record of 1:07 4/5.
"The plan was to get him to the front and relax," said winning rider Alan Garcia. "At the quarter-pole, I asked him a little bit he and he was still running past the wire."
The 5-year-old Anew, owned by Chrome Cowboy Racing Stable and Raymond Vitolo, has now won four consecutive races under Garcia for trainer Steve Asmussen. It was his initial stakes score. Anew (Awesome Again
--Lucinda, by Olympio) has been running primarily in claiming contests. He was claimed by his current owners from Dogwood Stable last October for $35,000. Anew was bred in Kentucky by John and Martha Mulholland.
Toby Sheet, Asmussen's assistant at Belmont Saturday, said the decision to geld Anew this year has made a tremendous difference.
"I saw speed, speed, speed today and I thought the best thing was to send him," he said. "His performance was unbelievable. I'm still saying, `Wow!' He's just a cool horse. He was a lunatic before we gelded him and he's still a lunatic, but he's a little better now."
Anew's True North score was his sixth in 18 starts and increased his earnings to $259,096. He is a perfect four-for-four this year, and has won half of his eight lifetime starts at six furlongs.
Anew was never really challenged after clearing the field from his outside post, and widened through the lane to score by daylight. His fractions were :22.12, :44.46, and :55.82 as Spanish Chestnut, carrying top weight of 117 pounds, picked up the chase in second soon after the start. Anew carried 113 pounds, three less than the runner-up.
Tiger, Eibar Coa aboard, stalked the pacesetter in third place, then angled out for the stretch run to pass Spanish Chestnut and Julien Leparoux.
"It was a fast race, not that he can't run that fast, but the track is playing speed-favoring," Coa said of the runner-up. "The winner ran a good race."
Mach Speed finished fourth, followed by Vicarage, Celtic Innis, Voodoo and Uncle Camie.