Naughty New Yorker and second-place finisher Sort It Out, two prominent local stakes horses from this winter, came from off the pace to sweep the $108,000 Mike Lee at Belmont Park on Sunday. Naughty New Yorker, under Jean-Luc Samyn, dropped 15 lengths back on the backstretch of the seven-furlong race for state-breds, but he rallied down the homestretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:23 at odds of 8-1. Blue Sunday tired after setting a rapid pace and finished third, a neck behind Sort It Out. The Mike Lee is the first race of the OTB Big Apple Triple. "It looks like we are going to Finger Lakes," said winning trainer Patrick Kelly. If Naughty New Yorker can win the New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 16 and the Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 24, owner Fox Ridge Farm would earn a $250,000 bonus.A line of four horses went to the front in the Mike Lee. Blue Sunday, under Jerry Bailey, officially set the fractions at :22 and :44 2/5, but Gold and Roses (John Velazquez) was on the inside, and Bold Decision (Javier Castellano) and Big Apple Daddy (Michael Luzzi) were on the outside. "I knew the pace would be very fast," Samyn said. "This horse likes to come out of it, that's his style. You can't change his style. I knew I had them at the quarter pole."Naughty New Yorker – a 3-year-old by Quiet American, out of the Naughty Natisha (Known Fact) – earned $64,800 for owner Fox Ridge Farm. He is now 3-4-2 from 13 starts with earnings of $253,767.
Naughty New Yorker, who won the Damon Runyon on Dec. 14, finished second in two Aqueduct stakes races this winter: the Count Fleet behind Scrappy T on Jan. 15 and the Whirlaway behind Sort It Out on Feb. 12. Sort it Out made the Kentucky Derby, but he was no factor and finished 17th. Naughty New Yorker stayed in New York but failed to hit the board in four subsequent starts in the Gotham (gr. III), Wood Memorial (gr. I), Withers (gr. III) and, most recently, a statebred allowance race on the Belmont turf on May 21. Naughty New Yorker returned $19.80, $8.50, and $4.10, Sort it Out paid $5.60 and $3.30 and Blue Sunday paid $2.50 to show.(Chart, Equibase)