Sunday’s $100,000 Better Talk Now at Saratoga posed different questions to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint hero Bulletin and Triple Crown veteran Bourbon War, but Front Run the Fed had the best answers to become the latest turf stakes winner for Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown.
Bet down to 7-5 favoritism off a 13-length allowance conquest at Belmont Park, Front Run the Fed ended up going last-to-first after being shuffled back on the inside early. Jose Lezcano was unfazed by the loss of position, riding with a patience reflecting confidence in his mount.
Bulletin, unraced since losing his perfect record when fourth in the William Walker at Churchill Downs April 27, was trying two turns for the first time. The 2-1 second choice sped to the lead through fractions of :23.74, :46.94, and 1:10.94 on the firm inner turf, stalked by Swamp Rat and Regally Irish.
Bourbon War, the 4-1 third choice, was trying turf for the first time after unplaced efforts in the Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1). The son of Tapit and My Conquestadory figured to prosper on the surface, and there was no question about his raw ability as the runner-up to future Travers (G1) winner Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth (G2). Bourbon War lived up to both his pedigree and back class by uncorking a bold rally in the stretch, only to find himself outkicked by Front Run the Fed.
Gaining rapidly on the inside entering the far turn, Front Run the Fed swung out widest of all into the stretch and ranged up to join Bourbon War and Bulletin. Bourbon War kept lugging in, and at one point brushed Swamp Rat, before finally clearing him and the tiring Bulletin.
Front Run the Fed, though, continued to have Bourbon War covered. Under good handling by Lezcano, the bay prevailed by a cozy half-length while negotiating the mile in 1:34.29.
Bulletin checked in another 2 1/4 lengths back in third, a creditable effort but one that reinforced his profile as a sprint specialist. The rest of the field was strung out. Swamp Rat dropped further adrift in fourth, trailed by Our Braintrust and Regally Irish. Performer was scratched after his sharp allowance score on the dirt on Travers Day, and the main-track-only Achilles Warrior stayed in the barn.
Front Run the Fed was the most expensive yearling from the first crop of Fed Biz sold at public auction, commanding $300,000 at Keeneland September. He is the first foal from the winning Posse mare Lawless Miss, from the extended family of multiple Grade 1 star and millionaire Jackson Bend.
Bred by Colts Neck Stables in Kentucky, Front Run the Fed was fourth in the loaded maiden won by Vekoma on the Belmont main track last fall. He promptly switched to turf, placing in a pair of maidens at Aqueduct and Gulfstream to conclude his juvenile season. Front Run the Fed broke through at Aqueduct in his April 14 reappearance and showed stakes quality in his aforementioned allowance romp. His successful stakes debut here advanced his resume to 6-3-1-1, $160,700.
The October 5 Hill Prince (G2) is a potential target, although Brown expressed some hesitation about stretching him out to nine furlongs at the moment.
Quotes from NYRA
Winning rider Jose Lezcano: “He broke and I wanted to be a little more close, but the other horse took my spot leaving the first turn, so I had to go to Plan B and let him sit and come with a run. He went on and did everything. I didn’t have to hit him or anything. He galloped out of the quarter-pole to the wire.”
Winning trainer Chad Brown: “He’s a real afternoon horse. He’s an average training horse in the mornings, but when he’s tacked up in the afternoons, he’s all business.
“He had a bit of an eventful trip early. He was pinched back on the first turn and was further back than I would have liked. Jose had to go to Plan B and showed good judgment letting the horse settle down first. He composed himself and decided to make one run with him and it paid off. Jose really used judgment and deserves a lot of credit.
“The Hill Prince makes sense, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit him to running a mile and an eighth yet.”