Gamine had her own Secretariat moment on Saturday at Belmont Park.
The Bob Baffert-trained filly, breaking from the rail, won the Grade 1 $300,000 Longines Acorn by 18 3/4 lengths in a race-record 1:32.55 over one mile on the main track.
“It was an amazing race out of her,” said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s assistant trainer. “Especially coming into a Grade 1 and for it being only her third start. Johnny [Velazquez] rode her right to the way we told him to go. We told him to take advantage of her position and he certainly did.”
The gap between Gamine and the Barclay Tagg-trained Pleasant Orb at the finish line was somewhat reminiscent of Secretariat’s great victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Secretariat completed his Triple Crown victory with a 31-length win in a world-record 2:24.0 for the 1 1/2 miles.
Like Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte in that famous win, Velazquez took a peek behind him to see where the rest of the seven-horse field was.
“She was a little bit on the aggressive side but I let her relax around the backstretch,” Velazquez said. “Once we got to the five-sixteenths pole, I let her run. By the quarter-pole, she opened up so quickly I had to look back.”
By a neck
Oleksandra rallied from last in an eight-horse field to win the Grade 1 $250,000 Jaipur by a neck ahead of Kanthaka in 1:06.80 over six furlongs and earn an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
Oleksandra was the lone mare in the race and it was the first career Grade 1 win for the six-year-old.
She narrowly missed beating the track record of 1:06.74.
“The fast pace was probably why I was further back,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “But she came with a great run in the end. We do well together. You just need to understand her and what she wants to do during the race.”
No Parole improved to 4-for-4 in sprints with an impressive wire-to-wire win in the Grade 1 $250,000 Woody Stephens. Breaking from the inside post, No Parole ran the seven furlongs in 1:21.42 for a 3 3/4-length win over the five-horse field.
“I think No Parole’s game is his speed,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “He’s shown that in all his races. To be able to draw the inside and take advantage of that with a good ride like [Luis] Saez, everything played out as we hoped.”
The 12-race card generated an all-sources handle of $67,753,336, including $34,088,475 for the Belmont Stakes. Last year, the all-sources handle for Belmont Stakes Day was $102,163,280, a record for a non-Triple Crown bid . . . Decorated Invader won the Grade 2, $150,000 one-mile Pennine Ridge and Sweet Melanie won the Grade 3 $150,000 one-mile Wonder Again.