Klaravich Stables’ Newspaperofrecord threw down the gauntlet to her prospective Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) rivals with a scintillating display in Sunday’s $200,000 Miss Grillo (G2) at Belmont Park.
Chad Brown has trained six previous Miss Grillo winners – including subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf stars Lady Eli (2014), New Money Honey (2015), and Maram – and his seventh was the most dominant of all. The even-money favorite in light of her 6 3/4-length debut romp at a soggy Saratoga, Newspaperofrecord caught another yielding inner turf course here, and delivered a similar 6 1/2-length decision.
The Irish-bred seized the early initiative with Irad Ortiz Jr. Her rivals still had a chance as she cantered through splits of :23.44, :48.26, and 1:12.76, but they could not live with her once she turned on the afterburners. Spurting away to an insurmountable lead in the stretch, she threw in a :23.27 fourth quarter to reach the mile in 1:36.03. The course condition did not blunt her acceleration as she ripped a final sixteenth in :6.08 to finish 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.11.
The maiden Varenka, runner-up in the P.G. Johnson, was best of the rest. Stellar Agent took third from Dogtag, Brown’s other runner who had captured the P.G. Johnson. Miss Technicality, the 5-2 second choice, advanced into contention turning for home but flattened out in fifth.
“Our plan was try to relax her and finish,” Ortiz said, “but she broke so sharp and I didn’t take anything away. She put me right there and made the lead so easy. She was relaxed on the lead, so I took it and it was good for us.”
“I thought she would be forwardly placed,” Brown said. “In her debut she was, but I didn’t think she’d be on the lead. I’m happy to hear from Irad right now. I was concerned that the first quarter of a mile maybe she was just running on or she wasn’t real responsive to the ride or something, but he said, ‘No, she just broke well and I let her go with it.’ She was always in the race, and as long as that’s the case, I’m fine with it.
“I was feeling pretty good turning for home, her ears popped and it looked like she was just galloping. You really never know until you turn them loose. She was loaded and pretty impressive, and he geared her down just in the shadow of the wire.
“Obviously, we’re going to run in the Breeders’ Cup, so hopefully she didn’t do much today.”
A daughter of Lope de Vega purchased by her connections for 200,000 guineas ($278,628) at Tattersalls October, Newspaperofrecord has banked $156,750 from her two-for-two record.
“It’s kind of sad, that’s for sure. The great Man o’ War,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said of Rocketry’s time of 2:40.18, which surpassed the 98-year-old mark of 2:40.80. “But like I told Maggie (Wolfendale on NYRA’s Belmont Live), I don’t think they’ve probably ran it (the 1 5/8-mile trip at Belmont) four times since Man o’ War ran it. But, when they run it again next year, his name will be in the program.”
Hitherto known as a turf performer, Centennial Farm’s Rocketry was making his dirt debut. Setting the table for the track record was 4-5 favorite War Story, who established a demanding pace for the distance. Archanova egged him on through fractions of :49.58, 1:13.73, and 1:37.90 before fading, and War Story was left to grapple with the oncoming You’re to Blame and Rocketry. Traveling best of all, Rocketry struck the front and powered 1 1/2 lengths clear. You’re to Blame crossed the wire 7 3/4 lengths ahead of War Story.
“I was glad to see he was a lot more on the bridle than he is on the turf,” Jerkens said, “so I felt good going into the backside that he wasn’t pumping on him just to keep him close like you do on the turf. He can fall way back on the turf even when the pace was slow. The way he was galloping into the backstretch, I felt good.”
A four-year-old Hard Spun colt, Rocketry sports a mark of 15-4-3-2, $377,090. His best prior stakes results were a pair of fourths in last year’s Saranac (G3) and the June 8 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational (G2), and he was coming off a fifth in the John’s Call.
As a postscript to the track record, the all-time great Man o’ War carried 126 pounds (compared to Rocketry’s 120) when setting his mark in the Lawrence Realization that he won by a gaudy margin (officially 100 lengths) from his sole sacrificial victim, Hoodwink. The past performance line reads “restrained at end.”