Baron Samedi Continues European Dominance In Marathon Belmont Gold Cup

Baron Samedi continued the dominance of European runners in the Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Friday, closing strongly in the stretch under John Velazquez to win the two-mile turf race by 2 3/4 lengths as the 6-5 favorite. It was the seventh consecutive victory for the English-bred gelded son of Harbour Watch dating back to August 2020.

Argentine-bred Fantasioso finished second with Javier Castellano aboard, with Ajourneytofreedom (one of three entries from the barn of Mike Maker) third and Kinenos fourth in the field of nine older marathoners.

Baron Samedi covered the two miles on yielding turf in 3:27.30, more than 10 seconds slower than 2018 winner Call to Mind ran the distance. Trained in Ireland by Joseph O’Brien, Baron Samedi became the fourth consecutive Belmont Gold Cup winner to invade from Europe. The only starter in this year’s field based in Europe, he paid $4.60 to win.

Inaugurated in 2014, the Belmont Gold Cup is the longest graded stakes run in North America.

The final four races on Friday’s program were delayed when a thunderstorm moved through the area, dumping a significant amount of rain on the course.

Owned by LECH Racing LLC, Baron Samedi was sold for about US$5,000 as a weanling. He was slow to develop as a racehorse, losing his first five starts, and didn’t win his first race until after being gelded. Once he figured out how to win, however, he has not finished behind another horses, gradually moving from the Irish handicap ranks into Group company, ending his 2020 campaign with a win in a Group 2 race at Longchamp going 1 3/8 miles and then launching his 2021 season with a win in the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes going 1 3/4 miles at Navan in Ireland on April 25.

Velazquez allowed Baron Samedi to settle into sixth position early as So High and Eric Cancel grabbed the early lead, going an opening quarter mile in :24.37, a half in :50.11 and six furlongs in 1:15.48.

Conviction Trade and Jose Ortiz raced in second through the opening mile in 1:43.03, then took over from the leader in the second run down the backstretch.

As the field rounded the final turn following a 1 1/4-mile clocking in 2:08.61, So High re-engaged with Conviction Trade, but the field was closing in on the two leaders.

Ziyad was the first to make a move, and Velazquez followed that one into the stretch while hugging the inside hedge. Once Baron Samedi cleared Ziyad, Velazquez swung him off the rail and took dead aim on the front-runners. Baron Samedi veered outwardly under a left-handed strike of the whip from Velazquez and into the path of a closing Fantasioso, the eventual runner-up, but there was no inquiry or claim of foul from that incident.

“The winner came out, but he was clear,” Castellano said. “He opened up by two lengths and it didn’t affect me at all.”

Straightened away and under right-handed pressure, Baron Samedi took command and maintained the advantage over the runner-up in the final furlong to win comfortably.

“Baron Samedi is a very good horse and Johnny [Velazquez] gave him a great ride.
said O’Brien. “He hadn’t been that far before, but he had handled that kind of track before, so we weren’t worried about the rain. We just worried about them taking the race off the turf.

“This horse just doesn’t get tired, he just keeps coming and coming,” Velazquez said. “But I had to ride him because he’s kind of slow-paced. He’s a grinder; just keeps coming and coming. I didn’t want to end up being a little too soon so I thought I’ better just keep him going. He did everything good. Once we got to the three-eighths pole I was riding him and getting to where I wanted to be and he gave me a good feeling from then on. The course was very soft, but he handled it well. No complaints.”

The post Baron Samedi Continues European Dominance In Marathon Belmont Gold Cup appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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