Most racetrack characters just hang out at their favorite place, not work there. Dr. Russell S. Cohen is one of a kind. Although he does have a world-class handlebar mustache and a tie covered with smiling horses, he’s a serious guy, a veterinarian who bred a top-class thoroughbred named Effinex.
The pride of Tri-Bone Stables, owned by Cohen's mother, Bernice Cohen, won the Suburban Handicap for the second consecutive year, edging Samraat by a neck Saturday at Belmont Park. The 130th running of the $500,000, Grade II event was one of six stakes worth $3.8 million at the Stars & Stripes Festival.
The 5-year-old New York-bred earned $275,000, raising his career total to $2,962,350. The money is only part of the rush.
“This has been such a fun ride we’re on,’’ said Cohen, 56, who practices at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga. “He’s a good horse, unmedicated, and sound all the time. He has his quirks, like the way he bore out in the stretch today, but if I’ve learned one thing in 30 years as a veterinarian, it’s if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You work with him, and you leave him alone.’’
Mike Smith rode and Jimmy Jerkens trains Effinex, the 2-1 favorite who ran 1¼ miles in 2:01.04. He rebounded from a sixth-place finish at 3-5 odds in the Stephen Foster Handicap on June 18 at Churchill Downs.
“It’s nice to have a race in your backyard,’’ Jerkens said. “I always loved this race. When I was a little kid, my father [Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens] won it a bunch of times with Beau Purple.’’
The card’s two richest events were Grade I’s for 3-year-olds at 1¼ miles on the grass, the $1.25-million Belmont Derby and the $1-million Belmont Oaks. World-class turf trainers won them, with Deauville ($14.60) taking the Derby for Irishman Aidan O’Brien and front-running filly Catch a Glimpse ($8.80) wiring the Oaks for Mark Casse.
Catch a Glimpse is 8-for-8 on turf, and she isn’t even Casse’s best runner. That would be Tepin, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile heroine who beat the boys again last month at Royal Ascot, where O’Brien was leading trainer. Catch a Glimpse outran the males Saturday even though she didn’t face them, because her time of 1:59.87 was .64 of a second better than Deauville’s. The Ireland-based colt lasted by a head over Highland Sky, and Catch a Glimpse beat Time and Motion by a half-length.
Fish Trappe Road won the $500,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds at a mile on dirt. Trainer Bret Calhoun is leaning toward Saratoga’s 7-furlong King’s Bishop, not the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy.
“He was a big kid at 2, playing around 24/7,’’ Calhoun said. “It’s all just coming together mentally and physically for him now. I don’t know if we’re going to stretch him out.”
Exaggerator works. Preakness winner Exaggerator breezed 4 furlongs in 51.69 seconds, his first workout since he finished 11th in the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Keith Desormeaux said he’s on target for the Jim Dandy.