Unbeaten Sudden Surprise just holds Jets rally in battle of NY-bred juveniles
A trio of exceptionally promising New York-bred juveniles made Sunday's $147,000 Bertram F. Bongard worth watching. While flashy Saratoga maiden winners (and pricey purchases) Championofthenile and Get Jets vied for favoritism, it was the 7-2 third choice -- Repole Stable homebred Sudden Surprise -- who took the spoils at Belmont Park.
Mike Repole commented on the depth of the field:
I joked with Todd (Pletcher), our next start will be either in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) or the Sleepy Hollow (versus state-breds October 24).
This race came up like a Grade 1 New York-bred 2 year-old stakes race. Probably the toughest New York-bred 2-year-old stakes race in history. I couldn't believe the two horses I saw in the race.
It's so cool because he's by my stallion Giant Surprise who's throwing some really nice horses. Our horse is 3-for-3 and he's done everything right. He just keeps getting better.
Sire Giant Surprise was a case of untapped potential. A well-bred son of Giant's Causeway and an A.P. Indy mare, with multiple Grade 1 queen Twist Afleet as his second dam, Giant Surprise dominated his unveiling at Saratoga in 2011. Unfortunately, he sustained a condylar fracture in the process, and his career ended with that one and only start. We'll never know just how good he might have been. Entering stud in 2012, Giant Surprise is represented by his first crop of runners this year, and early indications are he's passing on the ability he barely got a chance to show.
Sudden Surprise became his sire's first winner when wiring his debut at the Spa in July. The bay came back to score another front-running win in the Funny Cide for state-breds at the same venue, and made it three in a row here.
Readily securing the early lead with John Velazquez, Sudden Surprise got away with tepid splits of :23.91 and :47.22. Championofthenile, an $840,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic purchase in May who romped by six lengths at Saratoga last out, appeared well placed in a tracking second. But the 6-5 favorite was caught flat-footed when Sudden Surprise began to pull away at the top of the stretch.
Get Jets, the 8-5 second choice off his gangbusters Spa debut, rallied strongly up the rail and emerged as the only threat. In light of the moderate early pace, and as an inexperienced youngster stuck down on the inside, that was a particularly commendable finish. The $300,000 OBS April purchase, by Scat Daddy, remains one to follow.
Sudden Surprise, despite drifting out and back in again, found enough to hold on by a neck in a final time of 1:23.52. That was considerably faster than the time posted by Melodic (1:25.01) in the companion stakes for fillies, the $147,000 Joseph A. Gimma, which featured a faster early pace.
Repole again mentioned the Breeders' Cup in another post-race quote: "Now we have a tough decision between the Sleepy Hollow or the Breeders' Cup."
Pletcher indicated that a step up in class could be next.
"I think today's race was an open-stakes caliber race," the trainer said. "There were some very good colts in here so I think everything is in play (for his next race)."
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese/Chelsea Durand.