July 25, 2024

Santa Monica’s Sheepshead Bay score highlights Belmont card

Santa Monica wins the Orchid Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Leslie Martin

by Tommy Raymond

R Unicorn Stable’s Santa Monica recorded her second straight graded score by coming from last to first in very soft conditions in Saturday’s $194,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.

Settled in fifth through the early going under Joe Bravo, the Chad Brown-trained six-year-old mare bided her time behind a quartet of rivals before securing control at around the quarter pole, and then got home for the 11-furlong contest in 2:26.70. Semper Sententiae was 1 1/4 lengths back and was followed by pacesetter Giant Zinger, Lady Montdore and Vexatious. Unbridledadventure, Holy Helena and Matty’s Magnum were withdrawn.

In her last outing, Santa Monica captured the Orchid Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream. She also owns placings from the Glens Falls Stakes (G2), E. P. Taylor Stakes (G1) and last year’s Sheepshead Bay (G2). Saturday’s win improved Santa Monica’s record to 6-4-3 from 31 starts and earnings to $543,079.

There were two other graded stakes on the Belmont card, one of which was the $150,000 Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) featuring the return of Chilean champion and last year’s winner Robert Bruce. The Chad Brown-trained horse led into midstretch but couldn’t last on the front end and was passed by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables’ LLC, Wonder Stable and Bethlehem Stables’ colorbearer Olympico.

The French-bred gelding Olympico, also trained by Brown, split all of his rivals from the top of the stretch to the wire to win going away by three lengths under jockey Kendrick Carmouche. Olympico, making his U.S. debut just as stablemate Robert Bruce did in winning the Fort Marcy last year, prevailed by three lengths and completed the 1 1/8-mile soft inner turf test in 1:53.92.

Dr. Edgar, Cullum Road, Channel Cat, Robert Bruce, Doctor Mounty, Maraud and Arrocha filled out the order of finish after Control Group was withdrawn.

Despite the slow pace, Carmouche had faith the entire trip even though he and his mount trailed the field for the bulk of it.

“The turf course is real soft and he loved it,” the rider explained “I knew at the half-mile pole the race was over. I just had to find a spot to win.”

Olympico, by Rajsaman out of the Highest Honor mare Carmel now has $222,379 in earnings and a record of 20-5-6-1.

Also on tap at Belmont on Saturday was the $200,000 Westchester Stakes (G3), which was captured by Lawrence Goichman and Everything’s Cricket Racing’s Nicodemus. The Linda Rice trainee, piloted by Mike Luzzi, rallied from just off the pace to gain the lead late and win by a neck.

Stan the Man gained the initiative immediately and posted fractions of :23.08, :45.45 and 1:09.29. The five-year-old held up well through the fractions but wasn’t quite strong enough to hold sway against Nicodemus, who finished the one-turn, one-mile sloppy main track affair in 1:35.07.

The order of finish was filled out by Stan the Man, Sunny Ridge, Hoffenheim, Realm, Prince Lucky and Bandua. Carlino was scratched.

Nicodemus, a four-year-old by Candy Ride, was bred in Kentucky by Winstar Farms LLC and produced by the multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Leah’s Secret. A daughter of Tiger Ridge, Leah’s Secret also has a 2019 unnamed colt by Exaggerator.

Nicodemus exits the Westchester with earnings of $218,400 and a record of 7-3-2-0.