Therapist Shows His Affinity For Belmont With Elusive Quality Win

Oak Bluff Stables’ Therapist proved the winter wait was worth it, as the 4-year-old first-time gelding stayed undefeated on the Belmont Park grass by edging out Emmaus by a neck to win the sixth running of the $125,000 seven-furlong Elusive Quality on Saturday.

Off at 5-2 odds in his 2019 debut, Therapist patiently stalked from the rear of the six-horse field as Fixed Point led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.46 seconds and the half in 47.60 on the Widener turf labeled yielding.

Out of the far turn, Abiding Star challenged Fixed Point before 6-5 favorite Big Handsome temporarily gained the lead from the outside at the top of the stretch. But jockey Eric Cancel, who saved ground with Therapist near the rail, urged his charge to the outside, where he overcame traffic trouble to overtake a tiring Big Handsome and surged ahead of the Irish-bred Emmaus, ridden by Jose Ortiz, in the final jumps, hitting the wire in 1:24.75 to cap the first turf stakes of the Belmont spring/summer meet.

“I tried to follow Jose. I saw that he was the horse that I needed to beat,” Cancel said. “It looked like he was in a perfect spot, and I just tried to follow him. The trip worked out well. Once he found the hole by the quarter pole, I just followed him in. From there on, my horse did the job.”

The New York-bred homebred improved to 4-for-4 in his career on the Belmont turf, including three stakes victories. Trainer Christophe Clement said Therapist will likely target the $125,000 Kingston for state-breds going one mile on the turf on May 27.

“He’s a fun horse and he tries very hard. He had a great finish. He’s owned by Dick Leahy of Oak Bluff Stable, who also bred the horse, and has always been a pleasure to train for,” Clement said. “We waited all winter long to run him back. He ran a very good race today and I’m happy.”

Therapist, making his first start since a third-place finish in the Tropical Park Derby on December 29 at Gulfstream Park, returned $7.70 on a $2 win wager. The son of Freud improved to 7-0-2 in 11 career starts and increased his career earnings to $441,550.

“He doesn’t feel any different. He’s matured,” said Cancel, who was aboard for the first time since Therapist’s debut win in July 2017 at Belmont. “He’s a really good horse to ride and does everything you ask him.”

Emmaus, making his North American debut for trainer Conor Murphy, finished 1 ½-lengths in front of Big Handsome for second. The 5-year-old son of Invisible Spirit entered with three wins in his first eight starts in England and France.

“I had a very good trip and saved a lot of ground,” Ortiz said. “The one-horse [Abiding Star] was getting out and I was able to find a seam, but I just saw on the replay that the winner didn’t have a perfect trip. We were second-best today. I’m very happy with the way my horse ran.”

Abiding Star, V.I.P. Code and Fixed Point completed the order of finish. Krampus, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, was scratched.

Live racing continues Sunday with a 10-race carded headlined by the $125,000 License Fee. First post time is 1:30 p.m.

The post Therapist Shows His Affinity For Belmont With Elusive Quality Win appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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