Isotherm posts fitting upset in Pilgrim

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

September 26th, 2015

Isotherm scored a fitting, upset victory in the $200,000 Pilgrim (G3) at Belmont Park on Saturday. The juvenile colt descends in tail-male line from Zabeel, a champion sire in Australia and New Zealand, who reportedly passed away Friday at the age of 29.

Fourth in his August 1 debut going six furlongs on dirt, Isotherm has since notched back-to-back victories on the turf. Suffice it to say as a son of Lonhro and a grandson of Octagonal, both Australian Horses of the Year, racing on the grass was always going to be his true calling.

In the clear in eighth through the first half-mile, Isotherm began to advance around the far turn and swung wide for the stretch run. Avoiding an altercation with longshot Forever in Love, who likely cost eventual fourth-place finisher Highland Sky a better placing, Isotherm charged home to edge With Anticipation (G2) winner Azar by a neck.

Owned by Matthew Schera, trained by George Weaver and ridden by Jose Lezcano, Isotherm completed 1 1/16 miles on firm ground in 1:41.98. He paid $21.20 to win.

Azar held on for the place by a neck over Ray's the Bar, an English import who still trailed after six furlongs but made up considerable ground in the stretch while bidding inside the top pair late. Highland Sky, who raced in tandem with Isotherm most of the way, was an unlucky fourth after steadying to avoid the erratic Forever in Love. Eidmilaad, the 5-2 favorite, finished ninth in the field of 10.

Preceding this victory with a neck maiden score on Saratoga's inner turf August 22, Isotherm stamped his ticket to Kentucky with this victory.

"I kept telling everyone that he trains better than he ran last time, but he still won so we kind of expected something more today and it looks like he came out and he did it," Schera said. "We even think he likes the dirt too, so we'll see down the road for that. As long as he comes out good and he's healthy, we'll go to Keeneland for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf ([G1] on October 30)."

(Isotherm photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)