IEAH Stable's and Joe Torre's favored Sugar Punch knocked her rivals out of contention with a big move on the turn to easily win the $125,000 Iroquois Handicap for fillies and mares going seven furlongs at Belmont Park Saturday.A 3-year-old K.O. Punch filly, Sugar Punch is 6-for-6 this year for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. and undefeated in three lifetime starts at Belmont Park. Her only loss came in her debut race at Aqueduct on December 4.The $75,000 victory helped ease a difficult week for Torre, the New York Yankees manager whose team was eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series after leading the series, three games to none. "This is the first race I have had a chance to see her in person," Torre said. "We've been working every time she's run. Unfortunately, I should have been working today, too."I've been friends with (Dutrow) for a few years. He introduced me to some of the people who owned horses that he trained, and we forged a relationship. I love horse racing. It is very exciting. I'm not in this to make a living. I'm in it for the sport. Certainly, it is an exciting experience. I was exposed to racing in the time I've been working for the Yankees because of Mr. (George) Steinbrenner's racing and breeding operation."It is so exciting watching outside and in person. I got goose bumps when she turned into the stretch. I have five horses in training, four here and one in California." Jockey Edgar Prado brought Sugar Punch home in 1:23 for a victory worth $3.30, $2.50 and $2.30 to bettors. Allowing Beautiful America, who found room on the inside, and Distinctive Kitten to battle through early fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 2/5, Sugar Punch kicked in on the turn to take the lead. At the eighth-pole, Prado asked her for a bit more and she quickly ended the issue. She recorded a 3 ¾-length victory, with Beautiful America second and longshot Distinctive Kitten third.
Beautiful America returned $3.90 and $3.10. Distinctive Kitten's show was $5.70.Fleet Indian, You Promised, So Sweet A Cat and The She Laughs trailed.