February 27, 2024

Elite Power overtakes Gunite in final strides of Vanderbilt

Elite Power (left) just caught Gunite to make it eight straight in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (Photo by Angelo Lieto/Coglianese Photos)

Champion male sprint Elite Power dug deep to extend his win streak to eight in Saturday’s $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga, closing fast in deep stretch to edge Gunite by a head on the wire. A five-year-old son of Curlin, Elite Power sped six furlongs in 1:09.22 over the sloppy track with Irad Ortiz Jr.

Bill Mott trains for Juddmonte Farm, and Elite Power has won five consecutive stakes since taking October’s Vosburgh (G2), reeling off the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3), and June 10 True North (G2) at Belmont prior to the Vanderbilt. The chestnut horse adapted in his first attempt over an off track, delivering a top-class performance to nail Gunite, who opened a clear advantage with a furlong remaining.

“It looked like Gunite certainly had the jump on him turning for home,” Mott said. “Great, great, great effort on this horse. He doesn’t necessarily have to (like) an off track. He’s a big, strong horse, heavy horse. He handled it well, but it doesn’t have to be his best surface and I think it’s great. There was that question beforehand. You just don’t know. It’s like trying a new distance for the first time. When you try a new track surface you just don’t know what’s going to happen. But class came through.”

Off as the 1.10-1 favorite among seven rivals, Elite Power has now earned more than $2.6 million from a 11-8-0-1 record. He’s the leading contender for November’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.

“He knows where the wire is,” Ortiz said. “He does everything right. I ask him to go, he just goes. He goes for it. When we turned for home, that horse (Gunite) had the jump on me, I know he’s a nice horse and he’s a fighter. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I always trust my horse and every time I asked him, he responded.”

Elite Power hasn’t lost since breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs 14 months ago.

“For him to put up a streak like this against top competition just really boils down to him being a really good horse,” Mott said. “They don’t do it by accident.

“When they turned for home, I thought Gunite had the jump on us. He’s got the advantage. When he turned for home, he opened up and it’s hard to catch a horse on this kind of racetrack when they open up on you turning for home. Speed always carries over this kind of a racetrack. I think our horse deserves a lot of credit trying to make a big run off the pace on this kind of surface.”

Dean Delivers broke running, establishing a one-length advantage through an opening quarter-mile in :22.64, but Gunite was hot on the early leader’s heels and advanced to take a shot lead before the conclusion of the far turn, reaching the half-mile in :45.49.

Elite Power stalked a few lengths back before commencing his rally into the stretch, offering his best stride inside the final sixteenth of a mile to hand 6-5 second choice Gunite a tough setback.

“I worked out a pretty nice trip,” Tyler Gaffalione said of Gunite. “I sat right off of the pacesetter, coming into the stretch I called on my horse and he gave me everything he had. He laid it down today, we just weren’t able to get it done.”

It was more than six lengths back to Dean Delivers in third, and Gun It, Synthesis, Awesome Aaron, and Little Vic completed the order.

Bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stables, Elite Power was purchased for $900,000 as a yearling at the 2019 Keeneland September sale. He hails from the Grade 2-winning Vindication mare Broadway’s Alibi, runner-up in the 2012 Kentucky Oaks (G1) and a half-sister to a pair of stakes winners. This is the immediate female family of Grade 1 winner and sire Dialed In.

Elite Power may aim for the seven-furlong Forego (G1) on the Aug. 26 Travers undercard.

“I’d have to say that’s a race we’ll be looking at,” Mott said. “I think with Cody’s Wish going to the (Aug. 5) Whitney (G1), we probably wouldn’t run him back in the Forego. Timing is favorable it seems like right now. The Forego certainly would be a possibility.”