Engage Kicks Clear As Heavy Favorite In Futurity Stakes

Woodford Racing’s Engage was bet down to 1-2 favoritism in Saturday’s Grade 3 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park, and he ran the way a heavy favorite should. The 2-year-old son of Into Mischief waited behind the pacesetters through the turn, angled out and kicked away powerfully to beat runner up Barry Lee by 3 1/2 lengths on the wire. Ridden by Jose Ortiz for trainer Chad Brown, Engage covered six furlongs over the fast main track in 1:10.09.

“Really nice horse,” Ortiz said. “The first time he ran, I knew he was a good horse that day and he came back and won and last week he worked tremendous. With the post that I had today, I knew he was going to be tough. When I asked him to go at the three-sixteenths, I got the hole and I went outside Johnny [Velazquez, aboard Mojovation, No. 4], he really exploded. He gave me a great turn of foot.”

The field of five all left the gate well, with Red Peril making the best of his inside post position to go for the early lead. Mojovation, second choice at 5-2, had to be hustled by his rider after the first 50 yards but quickly made up the ground to take up second, a half-length behind Red Peril. Smooth B was hung three-wide on the outside, and the pair of Barry Lee and Engage traveled in unison just behind the leaders.

Overall, the group took up no more than three lengths through the far turn. Mojovation engaged Red Peril on the turn after fractions of :22.52 and :45.76, and those two turned for home about a half-length in front of Engage and Barry Lee.

Smooth B was still three-wide on the turn, and got out a bit turning for home to make a very inviting hole for Ortiz to send Engage through. The colt responded very willingly, immediately bursting through to open a clear margin on the field. Barry Lee had to go through a narrower hole between Red Peril and Mojovation, and hesitated before bulling his way through.

Engage briefly lost focus at about the sixteenth pole, but Ortiz kept his mind on the job and the colt won by 3 1/2 lengths at the wire. Barry Lee was making up ground in the late stages but had to settle for second, while Mojovation just held third over Red Peril.

Bred in Kentucky by Woods Edge Farm, Engage was a $200,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Consigned to the OBS March sale by Crupi’s New Castle Farm, the colt commanded a final bid of $500,000 from Woodford Racing. Second on debut after a lot of bumping in the stretch, Engage broke his maiden in his second start at Saratoga. Now with two wins from three starts, Engage has earned over $150,000.

“He’s shown quite a bit of improvement in each of his starts,” Brown said. “I was telling his owners in the paddock how much he’s filled out since his last race. This horse is in a growth spurt right now and I like the face we’ve kept him sprinting for now. Hopefully, he continues to develop physically and we’ll stretch him out as we go.”

The post Engage Kicks Clear As Heavy Favorite In Futurity Stakes appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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