On paper, the July 8 edition of the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T) was expected to conclude with a Chad Brown-trained runner being led to the winner's circle. Far be it for the Eclipse Award-winning conditioner to deviate from what has become the norm for his barn.
Video: Belmont Oaks Invitational S. (G1T)
The answer to the question of which distaffer would extend Brown's streak of dominance in the 1 1/4-mile turf test at Belmont Park ended up being "all of the above." Under heady handling from jockey Javier Castellano, New Money Honey took command in midstetch and held off stablemates Sistercharlie and Uni to lead a sweep of the top three positions for Brown, who has owned the Belmont Oaks in recent years.
Brown has now won five of the last six editions of the race, including 2012-13, the last two years the test was contested under its former name—the Garden City Stakes.
With three of the 11 runners in the field, Saturday's edition figured to be another showcase of Brown's astute handling of turf fillies. After rating fourth through fractions of :23.50 and :47.54, New Money Honey ranged up on the final turn and wore down Grizzel en route to besting Sistercharlie by a neck to earn her second grade 1 score.
"They all ran terrific. I have to watch it again to see all three trips," said Brown, who actually had four entered but scratched Fifty Five. "Obviously, this filly (New Money Honey) ran terrific, got position early, and they were moving along pretty good. Javier just backed off a little bit and had first run, and she kept great.
"My other two horses were two first-time Euros, they broke a little slow and were pretty far back. Both of them ran terrific, they look like they're going to have outstanding careers as well. I haven't really planned beyond this race, actually they'll probably all go in different directions."
Owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, New Money Honey has emphatically gotten her form back on point after an early-season bobble. The big-bodied daughter of Medaglia d'Oro capped off her 2-year-old campaign with a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) last November, but was a disappointing sixth as the favorite during her seasonal bow in the April 13 Appalachian Stakes Presented by Japan Racing Association (G3T) at Keeneland.
Her next outing in the June 8 Wonder Again Stakes (G3T) at Belmont was a return to her usual self, complete with a new wrinkle to her game as she won that day in gate-to-wire fashion. Sent off with 5-2 odds in the Belmont Oaks, New Money Honey reverted back to her stalking style, sitting in the second flight as Key To My Heart and Dynatail were heads apart up front down the backstretch.
"I think she is very straightforward and today she broke well out of the gate and got a good spot in the race," Castellano said. "Chad and I talked about our strategy before the race and I tried to follow procedure. It worked out great. It was a beautiful spot in the beginning of the race. When it was time to go, she responded and finished really well today."
New Money Honey paid $7.00, $3.30, and $2.90 across the board in earning her fourth win from six career starts. Bred by WinStar Farm, the bay filly is out of the Distorted Humor mare Weekend Whim and was purchased by Mike Ryan, agent for $450,000 out of the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. She improved her career earnings to $1,342,017.
Sistercharlie was well-regarded off her runner-up finish in the June 18 Prix de Diane Longines (G1) at Chantilly, where she fought through traffic and had to navigate around a horse who stumble and unseated its rider. Sent off as the favorite, the Irish-bred daughter of Myboycharlie similarly fell just short in her stateside debut after rating at the back of the 11-horse field through the half-mile mark.
"I tried to make a little move and get a little bit closer to the horses in front," jockey John Velazquez said. "I saw Javier was third or fourth on the horse to beat so I tried not to make a premature move. When I pulled out at the quarter pole she ran, but she couldn't catch up."