Gufo Up In Time For Belmont Derby Invitational Victory

Otter Bend Stables Gufo rallied from off the pace to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. The victory gave the Christophe Clement-trained 3-year-old son of Declaration of War a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf as part of the Challenge Series Win and You’re In races for the Nov. 6-7 world championships at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

Gufo raced past No Word and Mo Ready in deep stretch under Junior Alvarado, winning by one length, then had to wait out a stewards inquiry for possible interference at the top of the stretch when drifting out in front of Moon Over Miami.

The 7-5 favorite in the field eight 3-year-olds, Gufo paid $4.90 to win after covering 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:02.25.

No Word held second, with Mo Ready third and Ajourneytofreedom fourth.

Mo Ready worked his way to the front as the fielded rounded the clubhouse turn, getting the opening quarter mile in :24.48 with pressure from the outside by Moon Over Miami.

Those two raced 1-2 down the backstretch, with fractional times of :50.61 for the half mile and 1:15.56 for six furlongs, and were joined by No Word approaching the far turn. Gofu, meanwhile, was saving ground while in the second flight approaching the turn, swung off the rail and took aim at the leaders with two furlongs to go, the mile in 1:39.26.

Mo Ready proved stubborn on the lead, aided by soft fractions, and was finally overtaken by No Word. But Gufo had all the momentum and grabbed the lead inside the final sixteenth of a mile.

“I had to do my homework,” said Alvarado, riding Gufo for the first time. “He’s not a hard horse to ride, but it can be a little tricky with him to make sure he doesn’t fall too far back or it takes him too long to get home. I kept him between horses; he was paying attention to everything and he was focused. When I turned for home, I knew I had a lot of horse under me.

“I definitely thought it was close. The way he was travelling there, I knew I had plenty of horse to still finish. He was in a nice, nice rhythm the whole way around so I was pretty happy. [Christophe] said, ‘You have to ride him turning for home, it takes him a little bit to give you a nice kick’.”

The victory was the fifth in seven starts for Gufo, who had a four-race win streak broken when second to Domestic Spending in the Saratoga Derby Invitational in his last start on Aug. 15.

“He won well,” said Clement. “I thought he had a great trip from Junior [Alvarado] and when he asked him to quicken, he really quickened well in the stretch. He’s a good horse. If you look at all his races this year, he’s been running well all year round. I know he got beat last time but he actually ran a winning race when you look back at it.”

Clement wouldn’t commit to a start in the Breeders’ Cup.

“I’m not sure,” the trainer said. “We’ll have to check with the owner and see how he comes out of it. There’s also the Hollywood Derby [G1 on Nov. 28 at Del Mar] going a mile and an eighth.”

The post Gufo Up In Time For Belmont Derby Invitational Victory appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.