Economic Model aims higher after Easy Goer score
Economic Model utilized a stretch-drive surge to post a 1 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Easy Goer for three-year-olds in the opening race on Saturday's Belmont Stakes Day card.
The Chad Brown-trained bay colt pulled ahead of Rally Cry in the stretch and held off the Irish-bred Race Me Home for his second consecutive victory. Economic Model hit the wire in 1:40.18 in the 1 1/16-mile race on the fast main track to pace a field of five.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who has piloted Economic Model to all three of his career wins in five career starts, took him from the outside post position to register his first win in a stakes race.
"I hit him left [handed] and he started coming out," Ortiz said. I tried to keep him straight. "He's doing much better. He's improving. He's a nice horse."
Returning $10, Economic Model bested a field that include 3-5 program favorite and Rebel (G2) winner Cupid. Economic Model has won two in a row at Belmont Park since a ninth-place showing in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Brown said he will look to point him toward the Haskell Invitational (G1) or the Jim Dandy (G2).
"We've always liked this horse a lot," Brown said. "His race at Tampa was just so disappointing, but it is becoming clear now it was just the track over there. I've never lost confidence in this horse stretching out as well. He's always acted like a horse who wants to run further. We'll stretch him out from here.
"He has a few things to figure out, but we couldn't be more pleased with his performance today," he continued. "With Cupid not breaking and rushing and a lot of developments up front, that is what we hoped for, a solid pace. We're going to take a shot in one of those good races going a mile and an eighth, more than likely."
Race Me Home finished second. Coming off his maiden-breaking win, the Dale Romans trainee finished in the money for the second time in four career starts. Rally Cry came in third with Hit It Once More and Cupid completing the order of finish.
Cupid, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was coming off a 10th-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
"It was a little disappointing. I'm not sure why," said Jim Barnes, assistant to Baffert. "Maybe it was the one turn that he didn't like. He was a step slow leaving the gate and he [jockey Florent Geroux] tried to get him off the rail and to the outside, which he did, but it doing so it looked like he engaged early and wanted to be a little aggressive. That's racing. We'll go back and get a look at him and see where we're at."
(Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)