May 31, 2020

Qurbaan back in winner’s circle after Baruch repeat

For the second straight year, Qurbaan snapped a losing skid to win the Bernard Baruch (c) NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand

Shadwell Stable’s Qurbaan encountered different conditions, and brought a different profile, into his title defense in Monday’s $250,000 Bernard Baruch H. (G2), but the Saratoga turf feature once again proved the right spot for him to rediscover the winning groove.

Last Labor Day, the Kiaran McLaughlin veteran was something of an unknown quantity in his U.S. debut. At that time Qurbaan was a multiple French stakes scorer on synthetic who hadn’t raced in 11 months, had never won on turf, and had dropped his last five. Accordingly he went off at 13-1, only to uncork a strong rally from off the pace to prevail in a three-way finish.

Qurbaan was a much more familiar face in Monday’s renewal. Only now he was known more for collecting minor awards, having compiled a seven-race losing skid ever since. Bettors gave him more respect as the 3-1 third choice while slightly preferring two of Chad Brown’s trio, the 5-2 favorite Olympico and the other 3-1 chance, Sacred Life.

Olympico was bet down thanks to the soft course. As other races carded for the turf were transferred to the sloppy main, the Baruch retained its character as a grass stakes, but was moved from the Mellon to the inner turf.

Although Qurbaan met a different scenario from last year’s firm Mellon, he ran out a far more emphatic winner. Jockey Joel Rosario, who rode him for the first time when a near-miss third in the July 12 Forbidden Apple (G3), took up a more forward position on the inside here. Tracking Dream Friend through fractions of :24.81, :50.98, and 1:16.22, Qurbaan skimmed the hedge into the stretch and burst 2 1/2 lengths clear. In so doing he became the first horse since Shakis (2007-08), another Shadwell/McLaughlin runner, to repeat in the Baruch.

Fellow stalker Sacred Life had to settle for second, 2 1/4 lengths to the good of Dream Friend. The rest never got involved. Emaraaty bested his stablemate Olympico for fourth, and March to the Arch trailed. Noble Indy was an afternoon scratch.

By clocking 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.20 on the soggy going, Qurbaan advanced his resume to 22-7-3-6, $854,320. The six-year-old son of Speightstown has placed in six graded stakes – last fall’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and Ft Lauderdale (G2) as well as this year’s Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) (where he was just nailed by Bricks and Mortar), Maker’s 46 Mile (G1), Tampa Bay (G3), and Forbidden Apple. Qurbaan’s lone unplaced effort stateside, an eighth in the Manhattan (G1) on Belmont Day, can be excused on account of an overly aggressive Mike Smith ride.

McLaughlin mentioned that Qurbaan will get another crack at his owner’s sponsored Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland October 5. A mile has been short for him so far, but Rosario might have found the key.

Bred by Justin Carthy in Kentucky, Qurbaan brought $300,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. He is out of the Grade 1-placed stakes scorer Flip Flop, a Zieten mare descended from the family of Sangue, Candy Stripes, and such Japanese celebrities as Bubble Gum Fellow and Deep Brillante.

Quotes from NYRA

Winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin: “It was great for him. He’s one of the barn favorite and unlucky so many times to be second, third with little excuses, but today, everything went perfect and Joel (Rosario) rode him great. It was a great ride. He’s very good after riding a horse a time or two, I’ve found out. He rode him last time and he knows the horse. (Qurbaan) can be too keen or too far back sometimes, but he was ridden perfectly.”

Winning rider Joel Rosario: “On paper, it looked like there was only one horse with speed. He was up close and it looked like I could go to the lead, but I just decided to follow the other horse. I got through inside and everything worked out good. He was fine with the ground. He gave me a strong kick and it looked like he was really happy with it today.”