Velazquez capped his hat trick with a 1 ¾-length victory by 45-1 outsider Quiet Ruler over favored Whitmore's Conn in the 24th running of the $150,000 Mohawk Handicap for state-breds at 1 1/8 mile. The race was on the soft inner turf course.
It helped the 4-year-old gelded son of Woodman that rain earlier in the week created a soft course, and it also helped that Reluctant Groom dictated a pace of :26 2/5; :53 1/5; and 1:18 3/5. "I knew he liked this kind of surface," said winning trainer Russ Mueller, whose charge returned $93 to win. "He's a light horse and he doesn't hit the ground hard. I couldn't believe he was that kind of price. He was 15-1 in the Ashley Cole and only got beat four lengths. The pace was slow in that race and Johnny had him up between horses. He typically likes to come from out of it. He's a nice horse. He's game and all heart. He's run 29 times. I think this is my first stakes win as a trainer." "We had a good trip," Velazquez said. "He really likes the soft turf. The fractions were slow and he was comfortable. We were in a good spot. I could tell I had some horse, but I couldn't tell how much I had. I can't believe how quickly he accelerated. Usually, horses don't make a move like that on soft ground."
Whitmore's Conn ran a valiant race and came from far off the pace with his run.
"The pace might have hurt us," said trainer Randy Schulhofer. "It looked like the winner had a little something left. When we came to him, he just went right on. It just wasn't his day."
Quiet Ruler won for the fifth time in 29 starts and for the first time in 12 starts on the Belmont turf. The $90,000 first-place purse increased his bankroll to more than $240,000.
Chasin' Wimmin was third, a neck ahead of Haggs Castle. (Chart, Equibase)