Ogden Phipps' homebred filly Finder's Fee, second to Dream Supreme in last year's Gallant Bloom Handicap (then a grade III but now a grade II), earned the win in Saturday's $129,225 renewal at Belmont Park after the defending champion was scratched. There was a stewards' inquiry into the stretch run but the results were left unchanged.
Finder's Fee rallied from last under John Velazquez to put her nose ahead of longshot Cedar Knolls in the final strides, winning the 6 1/2-furlong race by a neck. She completed the distance in 1:17.60 on a fast track.
"She breaks so well, but takes herself back," said Velazquez. "It's the way she has always run. I knew they were moving pretty fast. In the stretch, you've got to get into her, but she doesn't like the whip. I was a little nervous inside the sixteenth pole because I didn't think we were going to get there. She just got up."
Gold Mover finished well while squeezed between the top two finishers, three-quarters of a length behind Cedar Knolls. Favored Dat You Miz Blue led into the stretch after dueling with Cedar Knolls early on but was taken up in mid-stretch while on the lead and finished last.
"She ran her race, she just got tired," said jockey Jorge Chavez of the favorite. "I don't know what else to say."
Finder's Fee finished third last time out in the Floral Park Handicap, which was won by Gold Mover with Dat You Miz Blue the runner-up. The 4-year-old daughter of Storm Cat -- Fantastic Find, by Mr. Prospector, earned $79,928 for her first stakes win of the year. Finder's Fee won two graded stakes as a 3-year-old and one as a juvenile. She has now won seven of 26 career starts.
"I thought she ran OK in the Floral Park (third) and she's been doing very good," said trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey. "The logical spot for her would be the First Flight (gr. I, Oct. 26th)."
Finder's Fee paid $9.60 and $5.80. Cedar Knolls returned $8.20 and completed the $54 exacta. There was no show wagering due to the small field. (Chart, Equibase