Dacita beat Sea Calisi and Guapaza in the Grade 2, $500,000 New York Stakes on Friday at Belmont Park, but the big winner was Chad Brown, who trains all three fillies.
“Listen, all three horses ran terrific, so that makes a trainer happy,” Brown said.
The owner Martin Schwartz finished second and third in the New York, and he wasn’t so pleased. Sea Calisi, whom Schwartz calls “my best horse” and who was the 4-5 favorite in the race, suffered through a brutal trip in defeat. She stumbled one step into the race, was stuck in last behind a slow pace, then had rough passage along the inside when full of run through the homestretch.
“Sea Calisi unfortunately didn’t have a great trip there inside,” Brown said. “I felt like if she could have gotten clear, she’d have had a better kick than she showed, but that’s turf racing, especially short field, moderate pace.”
Photo Call, the second choice at 7-2, quickly went clear on the lead, setting very reasonable splits of 25.05 seconds, 50.31, and 1:15.23, the half-mile and three-quarters fractions into a headwind of 10 to 15 mph. Guapaza raced in second, jockey John Velazquez waiting to challenge the leader until partway around the far turn. He drew abreast of Photo Call, who folded up without much fight, but then came her two stablemates to challenge.
While Irad Ortiz Jr. on Dacita swung outside at the top of the stretch, Jose Ortiz on Sea Calisi stuck to the inside and found little room there. Sea Calisi, so full of run that her head was cocked from pulling for free rein, bobbled a bit while in tight, found no room when her rider gently probed on the rail, and finally came between horses for a clear path in the final furlong or so. She finished well, but not as well as Dacita, who had a clean outside run after being maneuvered four or five paths from the fence.
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