On Belmont Park's Big Apple Showcase Day card featuring six stakes for New York-breds worth $900,000, Empire State stalwart Weekend Hideaway held on to win his second consecutive $200,000 Commentator Stakes by a nose over Diversify.
"You have to love a horse like this, (Weekend Hideaway) always gives you his best effort," winning trainer Phil Serpe said of Red and Black Stable's graded-placed runner. "He loves the muddy track and he loves Belmont, so we're very happy.
"He's got speed and has real speed in the slop. He does cherish the wet track. To tell you the truth, I think he got a little Rodney Dangerfield here. People weren't respecting him because he didn't come back winning. I think they will in the next one."
In the one-mile test May 29, the 7-year-old son of Speightstown and jockey Luis Saez went for the lead, as Diversify, with Jose Ortiz up, stalked from the three path. Weekend Hideaway set fractions through six-furlongs of :23.04, :46.04, and 1:10.57 over the sloppy, sealed track and maintained a 1 1/2-lead at the quarter pole.
In the stretch, Weekend Hideaway shifted into the five path as 2-1 favorite Diversify cut inside near the rail and started to chip away at the leader's advantage. The two runners surged toward the finish, but at the wire it was Weekend Hideaway by a nose in a final time of 1:37.34.
"When we came to the stretch, he was giving me everything," Saez said. "When I saw (Diversify), I thought he was going to get me, but we were still there. He was really trying.
"(Weekend Hideaway) loves a wet track and he loves the speed, too. Just break and let him run. Leave him alone and he's happy."
Weekend Hideaway returned $14.60, $6.40, and $3.80 across the board.
Bred by Flying Zee Stables, Weekend Hideaway now has a 12-5-6 record from 39 starts. With the win Monday, his first time back in the winner's circle since last August, boosted his earnings to more than $1 million.
Two races earlier on the card, Lawrence Goichman's homebred Kathryn the Wise romped in the $200,000 Critical Eye Stakes, extending her undefeated record to three for three. She won those starts by a collective 25 3/4 lengths.
The 4-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo went off as the 1-2 favorite and was sent to the lead in the one-mile race for fillies and mares. Under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., the Chad Brown trainee opened up on her 10 rivals around the turn and was never threatened as she galloped easy to hit the wire 8 1/4 lengths in front. The final time was 1:38.70.
Liberata checked in second, 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Bee Noteworthy in third. The winner returned $3.30, $2.90, and $2.70 across the board.
Hoffman Thoroughbreds' homebred son of Girolamo raced near the back of the six-horse field, which was whittled down from 10 with four trainer scratches, as the grade 1-placed Syndergaard took control. Into the stretch, jockey Kendrick Carmouche positioned T Loves a Fight between horses and the Michael Hushion-trained gelding kicked clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths. The final time was 1:25.06.
Syndergaard held on for second, 4 1/2 lengths clear of Pat On the Back in third. T Loves a Fight paid $5.70, $2.60, and $2.30 across the board.
The Linda Rice-trained 3-year-old daughter of Harlan's Holiday was bumped at the start of the seven-furlong test, but angled seven wide heading into the stretch under jockey Jose Ortiz and ran down Noble Freud. The final time was 1.25.19.