The brilliant sprinter Lady Tak, with a confident John Velazquez in the saddle, disposed of pacesetter Molto Vita coming off the turn and cruised to a two-length victory as the heavy favorite in the $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares.
The Florida-bred 4-year-old Lady Tak remains a possible starter in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30 for trainer Steve Asmussen and owners Heiligbrodt Stable.
Carrying top weight of 122 pounds, the chestnut daughter of Mutakddim
spotted her six rivals four to 12 pounds. A two-time grade I winner, Lady Tak won for the first time in three starts at Belmont Park. She was second in two grade Is there as a 3-year-old.
"I couldn't ask for a better trip," said Velazquez, who won his foruth race on the Belmont card. "She was outside and she let me get a hold of her. I was just a passenger. I just wanted to get through the first part of the race. I knew she would have enough to finish."
The final time was 1:16 for the 6 1/2-furlong Gallant Bloom.
Breaking from the extreme outside, Lady Tak was content to track in second on the outside as Molto Vita and Javier Castellano, who broke on Lady Tak's inside, shot to the lead. Molto Vita established a solid pace of :23 1/5 and :46 4/5.
Coming out of the turn, Lady Tak moved to even terms with Molto Vita and without being asked by Velazquez, she forged to the front as they straightened away in the stretch. Velazquez took a look behind to see if there were was any danger, and seeing none, gave Lady Tak a couple of whacks to put away Molto Vita in mid-stretch. She was ridden out from there.
Zawzooth, who was tracking closely in third before falling back on the turn, held on for the show with Jose Santos aboard. Zawzooth finished 4 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.
Second choice Ebony Breeze stumbled at the break and was outrun early. She angled out on the turn while far back, but failed to challenge. She settled for fourth, a head behind Zawzooth.
Lady Tak, who went over the $1 million mark in career earnings in her last start with a narrow victory over My Trusty Cat in the Ballerina Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 29, picked up her fourth win in six starts in 2004.
"You always worry about coming back off such a big race. She ran very hard that day," said Scott Blasi, an assistant to trainer Steven Asmussen. "She trained real smooth and got a very nice trip."
Asked about Breeders' Cup plans, he said, "We'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow."
Overall, Lady Taksports a 10-3-1 record in 17 tries with earnings of $1,109,602.
John Franks bred Lady Tak, who is out of the dam Star of My Eye (by Lucky North, and was a $75,000 Keeneland sale in April 2002.
She paid $3.60, $2.70 and $2.30. Molto Vita returned $6.40 and $5.40 while completing a $16.40 exacta.. Zawzooth's show was $5.
Forty Moves, Class Above and Forest Music completed the order.