After two near-misses in grade I turf stakes to With Anticipation, Denon took advantage of a rail-saving ride to score a narrow win in Sunday's $750,000 Belmont Turf Classic (gr. IT).It was the second straight Turf Classic victory for trainer Bobby Frankel.Frankel joins trainers Francois Boutin (April Run, 1981-'82) and Jimmy Picou (Diplomatic Jet, 1996 and Val's Prince, 1999) to have won consecutive Turf Classics.Last year, Frankel won the Turf Classic with Timboroa. This year, Timboroa helped Denon get to the winners' circle as the favorite of the crowd of 7,793.Under jockey John Velazquez, Timboroa dictated a pace of :23 3/5; :48 3/5; 1:14 2/5 and 1:39 on the course that was still in the process of recovering from rain Thursday and Friday.
Ulundi challenged that pace, as did With Anticipation, the 7-year-old who entered the Turf Classic on a three-race winning streak. In two of With Anticipation's wins during his streak -– the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth and Saratoga's Sword Dancer (both gr. IT) – Denon was the victim, losing by a neck and a head, respectively. Sunday, With Anticipation backed out in the lane after being bumped in traffic, and Denon found the room he needed to get home first by a half-length over fast-closing Blazing Fury in 2:28 2/5. "(The Turf Classic) is more money," Frankel said of his rivalry with With Anticipation. "If I had a choice of which one to win, I guess it would be this one."Denon, a 4-year-old son of Pleasant Colony, just might be the one for Frankel in the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). Also at 1 1/2, it is the grass feature of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park on Oct. 26."He pulled up a little bit again, and if someone comes strong at him, he could be in trouble," Frankel said. "[But] he likes the soft turf. I think he is my best horse for a mile and a half. I thought he would be laying second or third today. Maybe missing the break
was a blessing because it got him over to the rail and allowed him to save some ground. He got a little trouble turning for home with nowhere to go, but that might have been a blessing, too, because he didn't get out to make the lead too soon."I put the saddle on bad, too. When he came back, the saddle was back about six inches. Everything worked out. I was a little concerned that maybe he wasn't tight enough, but I think now he'll be perfect for the Breeders' Cup with four weeks. I don't think he ran too hard today. If I can get a little bit of cut in the ground, I would be very confident with him."Jockey Edgar Prado also expressed confidence in his mount."We had a good trip," he said. "We were saving ground. I thought the fractions were a little slow, but I had horse. Turning for home, I just needed a place. I got one, and he took off. He started to loaf around once he got to the lead, but we got to the wire first. We turned the tables on With Anticipation. That's a nice feeling. I was real close the last time we met. (With Anticipation) didn't run his race today, but even if he did, I think we would have beaten him."Blazing Fury headed Delta Form for the place, and both horses closed impressively."Today at least, we got to see him run his race," said Blazing Fury's trainer, Jimmy Toner. "We never got into a rhythm with him this year. It's kind of late in the game. It's not like we're going to go to the Breeders' Cup. We got a positive race out of him today. I don't think I managed the horse well this year. He likes a little give to the ground."
As for Delta Form, who nearly died form a sinus infection and pneumonia, he made a hit in his New York debut for trainer Jenine Sahadi and will merit attention if he goes to Arlington.
Kim Loves Bucky, who made strong move on the far turn before being tackled by Denon, was fourth, followed by Whitmore's Conn, With Anticipation, Ulundi and Timboroa.
With the loss, plans are up in the air for With Anticipation."I'm not sure if we're going to the Breeders' Cup if the turf is soft or yielding," said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "We assume that the softer ground is not to his liking. He didn't really want to extend himself the last part. He was running fine until we had to ask him. He didn't appear to be blowing. If (Pat Day) had horse, he would have gone on. We've seen him come through tight spots before, but he just wouldn't stretch into high gear."This was the third Grade I win for Denon, who also captured the Hollywood Derby last November in his first U.S. start after coming over from France, and the Charlie Whittingham June 2 also at Hollywood.He is five-for-12 lifetime and the $450,000 purse Sunday increased his career earnings to more than $1.25 million.Denon paid $5.10, $3.30 and $2.50. Blazing Fury returned $10.20 and $6.10. Delta Form, a head behind Blazing Fury in third at the wire, paid $4.80 for the show. (Chart, Equibase)