The best of his division last year at two, Oscar Performance had thrown in two clunkers in Kentucky this spring prior to Saturday’s $200,000 Pennine Ridge (G3) at Belmont Park. Cool on the board at 7-2 with that incoming form but the lone speed in a field of seven, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner returned to his best with a wire-to-wire score in the nine-furlong test on the inner turf.
With regular pilot Jose Ortiz in the saddle, Oscar Performance maintained a one-length lead through splits of :24.43, :49.92 and 1:14.72, and had plenty left to withstand mild rallies from 9-10 favorite Good Samaritan and third choice Ticonderoga. Oscar Performance paid $9.80 after covering the distance in 1:48.44 on firm ground.
Good Samaritan finished a head in front of Ticonderoga, both of whom were at the back of the field for most of the first half. Rounding out the order of finish was Bowies Hero, Muggsamatic, Makarios, and Secretary At War.
A homebred campaigned by Amerman Racing and trained by Brian Lynch, Oscar Performance was a maiden winner by more than 10 lengths in his second career start, and then went on to capture the Pilgrim (G3) by six lengths and the Breeders’ Cup by 1 1/4 lengths, where Good Samaritan and Ticonderoga finished third and fourth, respectively, after less favorable trips.
A dull fifth as the odds-on choice in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland April 7 after a slow start, Oscar Performance wilted to the rear after setting the pace in the May 6 American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs, which was contested on a course officially rated good but which played more toward yielding or soft. The Pennine Ridge pushes his career earnings to $847,632 from a line of 7-4-0-0.
“I’m thrilled to see him back in action,” Lynch said. “You’re always worried about being a one-trick pony as a two-year-old and the Juvenile Turf curse, but he had been training so solidly in between, I’ve just got to put it down to the soft turf courses in Kentucky.
“He got the mile and an eighth today and there’s no reason to say that he won’t get the mile and a quarter,” Lynch added, referring to the $1.2 million Belmont Derby (G1) on July 8.
By Kitten’s Joy and out of the stakes-winning Theatrical mare Devine Actress, Oscar Performance is a full brother to Grade 3 scorer Oscar Nominated and is from the family of Grade 1 winner Dramatic Gold.