Weather wreaked havoc on the lone graded turf sprint on the New York racing calendar, as the $100,900 Jaipur Handicap was forced off the turf and run on the muddy main track on Sunday at Belmont Park. Under Jerry Bailey, Affirmed Success completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.69 to earn the hard-fought victory in the scratch-plagued race.
The Jaipur Handicap was reduced to a three-horse affair after the scratches of seven horses, including last year's winner Gone Fishin. Once underway, the race quickly became a two-horse affair, with the speedy Texas Glitter and veteran Affirmed Success clearing Bought in Dixie by several lengths after a half-mile run in a quick :44.82. Affirmed Success moved up to challenge Texas Glitter on the turn and put his head in front after six furlongs run in 1:08.78. Texas Glitter fought gamely in the stretch, but Affirmed Success pulled clear to the one-length victory.
"It was harder than you think," said Bailey. "I know Texas Glitter is a 5/8th's horse but he has a lot of fight in him and likes the mud. This was a good return effort from Affirmed Success. He's a warrior."
Due to the surface switch, the race was automatically downgraded from grade III to listed status. The original grade may be reinstated at a later date after review by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
The win marks the 12th in 28 career races for Albert Fried Jr.'s Affirmed Success and the $66,475 winner's share of the purse increased his career earnings to over $1.5 million. A graded stakes winner on turf and dirt, the 7-year-old gelding is being prepared for a return engagement in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), in which he finished a close-up fourth last year. His two grade I wins, the 1999 Cigar Mile Handicap and the 1998 Vosburgh Stakes, have come on the main track.
"He's a superior seven-furlong horse," said winning trainer Richard Schosberg. "If he's been beat at seven furlongs it's been by a lip. Crafty Friend beat us a half a nose in the Forego. He worked very hard today. We're sticking with our plan to run in the Breeders' Cup Mile because the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) is not at seven furlongs. We almost got it done last year."
Affirmed Success returned $3.30 for the win. There was no place, show, or exacta wagering due to short field.
Affirmed Success (Affirmed--Towering Success, by Irish Tower) was bred in Kentucky by his owner. (Chart, Equibase