Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Bricks and Mortar wasn’t done any favors by the way Saturday’s Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) unfolded, but the even-money favorite still asserted his class on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Confidently handled by Irad Ortiz Jr., the Chad Brown trainee got up in time to extend his winning streak to four, and maintain his grip on divisional leadership.
Bricks and Mortar is unbeaten since resuming from a 14-month layoff in a Gulfstream Park allowance in December. That was his launching pad to victory in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), and last time out, he scored a hard-fought decision when conceding nine pounds to Markitoff in the Mervin Muniz Memorial (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Like the Muniz, the Old Forester lacked much pace, and Markitoff carved out fractions of :24.33, :50.10, and 1:15.08 on a course labeled good. Clyde’s Image prompted, and the newly blinkered Qurbaan lay close, until both overtook Markitoff in the stretch.
Meanwhile, Bricks and Mortar was reserved near the latter part of the field, about four lengths back. As he worked his way forward into contention in midstretch, he got into a bumping match with March to the Arch. Qurbaan was making his bid for glory, putting away Clyde’s Image and threatening to spring the 13-1 upset.
But Bricks and Mortar brushed off his scrimmaging and stayed on strongly. Overhauling Qurbaan in the final strides, he clocked 1:51.80 for the 1 1/8-mile test.
Ortiz was winning his third graded stakes on the card, after Beau Recall in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) and Digital Age, also for Brown and Klaravich, in the American Turf (G2). Brown hit an across-the-country grand slam, including his Belmont Park winners Santa Monica and Olympico in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and Fort Marcy (G3) respectively.
Another 1 1/4 lengths adrift of Qurbaan came Clyde’s Image in third. Raging Bull closed for fourth, giving Brown both bookends of the superfecta. March to the Arch wound up fifth. Next came Markitoff, Synchrony, Sabrador, the Brown-trained Ticonderoga, Next Shares, Multiplier, Prime Attraction, and Breaking the Rules.
Bricks and Mortar has bankrolled $3,768,650 from his 10-8-0-2 line. Among the notable turf sophomores of 2017, the son of Giant’s Causeway landed the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) and Manila while placing third in the Saranac (G3) and Hill Prince (G3).
Bred by George Strawbridge Jr. in Kentucky, Bricks and Mortar was purchased for $200,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. His dam by Ocean Crest, multiple Grade/Group-placed stakes winner Beyond the Waves, has produced four other stakes performers on the Flat – Grade 3 scorer Emerald Beech, multiple stakes victor Beyond Smart, Group 3-placed Sir Ector, and multiple French stakes-placed Water View – as well as the hurdler Beyond Henry. This is also the family of Grade 1 sprint hero Bordonaro.