Controlling speed was a factor in both of the graded turf stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday. After the 6.60-1 Shifty She wired the $200,000 Noble Damsel (G3) on the Widener turf, Never Surprised nearly pulled a front-running coup in the $400,000 Hill Prince (G2) on the inner course, but Public Sector wore him down late.
Hill Prince (G2)
Klaravich Stables’ Public Sector was scoring his third straight graded victory, after the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) and Saranac (G3) at Saratoga. Trained by Chad Brown and piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr., the 3.30-1 chance was reserved several lengths off the pace in third before deploying in the stretch.
Meanwhile, the 7.50-1 Never Surprised cleared the field from post 10 and carved out splits of :24.35, :49.71, and 1:14.13 on the firm turf. Runner-up to Public Sector in the Saranac off a layoff, Never Surprised threatened to turn the tables while still in control in midstretch.
But Public Sector took off down the lane, and his superior acceleration inside the final furlong proved decisive. Collaring the stubborn pacesetter, the British-bred colt thrust his neck in front and completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.68.
“He has a great mind, this horse,” Ortiz told NYRA publicity. “He switched off when I wanted him to and when I asked him to respond, he gave me a great turn of foot.”
Brown praised Ortiz’s role in the outcome:
“The ride was really great by Irad. I know he’s a very talented horse, but he delivered a really top ride. For him to get him out and get good position and be clear and out of trouble was a great move. He was saving ground and ahead of a lot of the other runners in the race and he timed it just perfect. Up until the last moment he was focused on passing the pacemaker, but was still taking peeks throughout the stretch to his right to make sure no one was coming.
“The bottom line is I think Irad had complete control of the whole field throughout the race. It was a magnificent ride and a real professional performance by both the horse and him.
“The pacemaker (Never Surprised) is a good horse and runs fast numbers and, I thought, a legitimate contender to win this race. When they kicked on for home, there was a moment there I didn’t think we’d be able to reel him in. I have a lot of respect for that horse.”
Never Surprised, rank early before Kendrick Carmouche settled him, was 1 3/4 lengths clear of third-placer It Can Be Done. The 69-1 Hilliard closed for fourth, posting the fastest final eighth according to Trakus (:10.99), and 8-5 favorite Soldier Rising also motored (:11.03) belatedly in fifth. Next came War Bomber, Sifting Sands, Slicked Back, He’spuregold, Founder, and Original, who acted up in the gate.
Public Sector’s resume reads 9-5-3-0, $598,600. A convincing debut winner at the Spa last season, the bay was second in a paceless Pilgrim (G2) and a rough-trip 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Public Sector resumed in entry-level allowances and cleared that condition in his second start back. He missed by a head in the July 4 Manila S. before commencing his winning streak.
Bred by The Kathryn Stud, the Kingman colt sold for 170,000 guineas as a Tattersalls October yearling. Public Sector is out of the Montjeu mare Parle Moi, who is a half-sister to Italian co-highweight Toi et Moi, Italian classic-placed Moi Non Plus, and French stakes scorer Moi Meme.
Brown indicated that Public Sector would try to emulate another son of Kingman, Domestic Spending, and add the Nov. 27 Hollywood Derby (G1) to his ledger.
“That was really the plan – win or lose,” the horseman said. “As long as he ran well, we really thought he could follow the path Domestic Spending ended up getting out to the Hollywood Derby last year for his last start of the year.”
Noble Damsel (G3)
Fourth when held up just off the pace in the Sept. 11 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3), Shifty She was much happier rolling along on the front end here and scored a new career high.
“I flew my jockey (Edwin Gonzalez) up today, and it paid off for us,” co-owner/breeder Chris Pallas said.
Shifty She had won both of her previous starts when teaming up with Gonzalez, the May 15 Powder Break S. and June 12 Ginger Punch S. at Gulfstream Park. The Saffie Joseph Jr. mare maintained their perfect partnership in the Noble Damsel, after rattling off fractions of :23.33, :46.20, and 1:09.58 on the firm course. Clocking the mile in 1:33.24, Shifty She had 1 1/2 lengths to spare over High Opinion.
“She’s a very nice filly and she was comfortable up front,” Gonzalez said. “She was nice and relaxed, and I waited until the last eighth of a mile to run.”
Flower Point rallied from last for a troubled third, followed by In a Hurry; Love and Thunder; Brown’s 2.05-1 favorite, Tamahere, who tracked early but faded; Risky Mischief; and Marlborough Road. Platinum Paynter was scratched along with the main-track-only Truth Hurts.
Raced by Pallas in partnership with Harvey E. Rothenberg, Shifty She has bankrolled $317,395 from her 10-6-0-1 line, including a third in the Aug. 8 De La Rose S. at Saratoga. The Florida-bred had won three in a row in 2019 for original trainer Lilli Kurtinecz, but spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines. She resurfaced with Joseph this spring.
“She had a little leg injury last year,” Pallas said, “so we gave her a lot of time off and it’s proved to be the right thing. Just look at the time – she finished in 1:33 and change, that’s racehorse time. In this game, you’ve got to be very patient. Patience is the key. The little guys like us, sometimes we can play in the big leagues.”
Shifty She was bred by Pallas and George Klein. By Gone Astray and out of the Strong Hope mare Perilous Hope, the five-year-old sports the Rasmussen Factor of inbreeding to notable broodmares. She descends from multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Educated Risk, who is a half-sister to Hall of Famer Inside Information, the ancestress of Gone Astray.
As a Florida-based runner proficient at Gulfstream, Shifty She logically has the newly minted Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf (G3) on her itinerary for Jan. 29.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Pallas said. “I think we’re looking at that right now and with this win, she deserves to be there.”