Colizeo, the 8-5 favorite, defeated Worldly after a long stretch duel to score the $136,375 Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a neck in his graded stakes debut June 12 at Churchill Downs.
With Garrett Gomez aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher, Colizeo set the pace in the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds before being engaged by Worldly rounding the far turn. Those two battled gamely the rest of the way, never separated by more than a half-length.
Racing along the irail, Colizeo continued a short lead at the eighth-pole and would never let his rival pass him in the stretch. The final time on the fast main track was 1:43.60. Worldly, with Robby Albarado aboard for trainer Paul McGee, was 2 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Vow to Wager
in the field of six.
Colizeo set comfortable fractions of :24.89, :49.19, and 1:13.22, leaving plenty left in the tank for the testing stretch duel.
"(Worldly) kept coming on and I thought I had him where I wanted," Gomez said. "I asked mine for a little more and his horse would come back and eyeball me again. I thought once I really asked my horse I would run away with it. I had a hard time doing that today. This was a good test for the horse.”
A son of Distorted Humor
—Colony band, by Dixieland Band
, Colizeo is a Kentucky homebred of Wertheimer and Frere. The dark bay/brown colt broke his maiden in January at Gulfstream at fourth asking and scored a two-turn allowance win last out at Churchill.
The Northern Dancer was a near repeat of when Colizeo and Worldly met at Churchill last fall as 2-year-olds in their third career starts when the latter edged Colizeo by a nose.
"If you look at the allowance race at Gulfstream (in February when fourth), he ran against the likes of Fly Down
and First Dude
. He ran a good race and keeps taking a step forward after every race. He has potential. We’ll see how he comes back and look at our options for his next start.”
Now 3-2-0 from eight starts, Colizeo has earned $154,077.
The winner paid $5.40, $3.80, and $2.80. The exacta (4-1) returned $30.40 and the trifecta (4-1-5) was $201.20.