Unified, Cavorting & Wake Forest distinguish themselves, could return for Belmont Day stakes

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May 17th, 2016


There was a quartet of graded races during the weekend at Belmont Park, all serving as preps for stakes races on the dynamite June 11 Belmont Stakes program.

Man o’ War S. (G1): Michael Dubb et al’s WAKE FOREST (Sir Percy) commenced his run at the top of the lane and finished best of all in securing a three quarters of a length victory beneath John Velazquez. The Chad Brown pupil stopped the teletimer in 2:12 4/5 after running 1 3/8 miles on the firm inner turf.

Ruffian S. (G2): Stonestreet Stables’ CAVORTING (Bernardini) swept to the lead at the top of the lane and poured it on through the stretch, posting a five-length score for conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin. The four-year-old filly endured one mile on the fast main oval in 1:34 with Javier Castellano.

Peter Pan S. (G2): Centennial Farms’ UNIFIED (Candy Ride) inched to the lead at the top of the lane, opened up a nice edge by midstretch and then held sway late by three parts of a length for conditioner Jimmy Jerkens. The unbeaten three-year-old colt went 1 1/8 miles in 1:47 with Jose Ortiz, who won four races Saturday.

Beaugay S. (G3): Courtlandt Farms’ homebred STRIKE CHARMER (Smart Strike) moved to the outside for the stretch run and powered clear inside the final furlong under Irad Ortiz Jr. The six-year-old mare was 2 ¾ lengths clear under the line, getting 1 1/16 miles on the outer turf in a quick 1:39.22 for trainer Mark Hennig.

Track Stats

A total of 47 races were held at the Elmont, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 36 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 53 percent of the wins during the week. From 26 races on the main oval, four animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (15 percent), while two of the 21 grassy races were taken all the way on the lead (9 percent).  

All three of the wire jobs on the lawn came in route races on the inner turf oval. Late runners had every chance on the green, telling us that the turf is playing kindly to all types.

Of the quartet of winners who led at every call on the main oval, three came in sprints runs and one going long. We preferred runners who flashed some pace and stayed in touch to the top of the lane some this past week.

Meet Totals












50 (41%)

2nd Choices:


22 (18%)

Turf Wire:


8 (18%)

Dirt Wire:


14 (18%)





Wednesday (5/11)

1ST – ESCAPE TO VEGAS (Desert Party) pounced on the leaders in early stretch and cruised home an easy winner in what was a sharp debut for trainer Tom Morley. The two-year-old colt didn’t come home in an especially fast time, but the youngster was much the best and looked the part from a visual standpoint.

5TH – PROTECTION (Exchange Rate) wouldn’t take no for an answer in this heat, gradually wearing down the early leader and getting up by a nose on the wire. The Mike Maker trainee went six panels in a swift 1:08 1/5 and the gelding is in arguably his best form to date.

6TH – TAURINE (Flatter) overcame the rail post and some traffic in this debut run, coming home an impressive winner for conditioner Christophe Clement. The three-year-old filly could be a nice prospect with steady improvement.

Thursday (5/12)

5TH – Shug McGaughey’s GOLD SHIELD (Medaglia d’Oro) took over with a nice move in early stretch and held a safe margin to the wire under John Velazquez. The four-year-old colt toppled a few decent ones in this turf test and looms a big chance next time with even slight improvement.

9TH – SUGAR REEF (Tizway) had no chance in getting the winner, but we did like how this one finished and the Clement trainee might be a big danger second time out with a forward move off this one.

Friday (5/13)

7TH – REAL SMART (Smart Strike) made quite an impression in her U.S. debut for conditioner Graham Motion, blowing past foes late in an allowance tally. The four-year-old import was making her 2016 bow, as well, and could be set for a big second half of this season if this race was any indication.

Saturday (5/14)

3RD – DOCTOR MOUNTY (Street Sense) gave McGaughey another nice winner when taking over in early stretch and coming home best to break his maiden. The three-year-old colt came home with good energy and gives the impression of one who will be tough next time.

5TH – GORELLI (Posse) was dead game in this sprint and just missed with a stubborn try under Luis Saez. The four-year-old gelding will be graduating soon with any improvement going forward.

7TH – It was good to see Grade 1 heroine CAVORTING back to her best self, and we are excited to watch her run this summer, and beyond.

A Look Ahead

Saturday’s $150,000 Vagrancy H. (G3) is the lone graded race carded this week at Belmont Park.