July 13, 2024

National Treasure runs away from Met Mile rivals; Crupi gives Pletcher a Suburban hat trick

National Treasure winning the Metropolitan H. (G1) at Saratoga (Photo by Coglianese Photos)
National Treasure winning the Metropolitan H. (G1) at Saratoga (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Like father, like son.

Fourteen years after Quality Road landed the Metropolitan H. (G1) as the favorite, his son, National Treasure, followed suit in Saturday’s $1 million renewal.

There are differences, though. Quality Road beat seven rivals at odds of 1-4 by 1 1/2 lengths going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park in 1:33. National Treasure required 1:35.12 to complete his mile around a turn and half at Saratoga, but did so more comfortably by 6 1/4 lengths against five others.

National Treasure paid a little better, too, with a $4.70 mutuel awarded to his many backers. Also taking a lot of money Saturday was Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner White Abarrio, who turned in his second straight dud of the season. He was beaten more than 10 lengths into fifth, which followed a 10th-place run in a field of 14 in the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) back in February.

National Treasure also contested the Saudi Cup, finishing a respectable fourth, and is now 2-0 against White Abarrio thanks to leading all the way in the Met Mile. After being pressured for the opening six furlongs by Hoist the Gold, National Treasure gave that rival, and the rest of them, the slip in upper stretch under Flavien Prat.

Post Time rallied to earn place honors in a three-way photo over Hoist the Gold and Castle Chaos. White Abarrio only beat Blazing Sevens, who trailed throughout.

National Treasure, a four-year-old, has not been the most consistent of winners throughout his career, but has landed some of racing’s most lucrative and prestigious prizes. The Met Mile was his third stakes win, following the 2023 Preakness (G1) and the Pegasus World Cup (G1) this past January.

One of National Treasure’s more impressive efforts was a race he lost, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita last fall. In that, he led for every jump but the last, losing to eventual Horse of the Year Cody’s Wish by a nose. National Treasure earned a fees-paid berth to the 2024 Dirt Mile, which will be held at Del Mar in November, by virtue of his victory in the Met.

“When he shows up, he’s super,” winning trainer Bob Baffert said. “[What] we’ve learned about this horse is that you have to let him run. That’s his weapon—his speed—and if you take it away from him, he won’t run well. That’s just him. Sometimes, you just have to go for broke.”

With wins in the Pegasus and Met Mile, National Treasure’s status as the current leading older dirt male in the country appears firm. Senor Buscador, with whom he traded decisions in the Pegasus and Saudi Cup, subsequently ran third in the Dubai World Cup (G1) and will not be back until later in the summer.

A Kentucky-bred reared by the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure, National Treasure has bankrolled more than $5.3 million for the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, and Catherine Donovan. That after selling for $500,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga.

A ballooning treasure, indeed.

Earlier in the card, trainer Todd Pletcher captured the $350,000 Suburban (G2) for the third consecutive year when Crupi rallied inside the final furlong to edge 9-10 Bendoog by a half-length under Irad Ortiz Jr.

It was the first graded win in six attempts for Crupi, whose best prior finish at the level was a third in the Pegasus World Cup behind National Treasure. The Suburban was Crupi’s first outing since running 10th in the Dubai World Cup.

“I said he ran so bad in Dubai it didn’t take anything out of him,” said Pletcher, who trained Dynamic One (2022) and Charge It (2023) to wins in previous two Suburbans. Charge It was scratched from his title defense early Saturday.

“He shipped back really well. We took our time with him,” Pletcher added. “He probably could have been ready a little earlier but we wanted to be conservative and wait for this. Since he got back from Dubai we’ve been pointing for this. I’m glad it worked out.”

Crupi, who races for Mike Repole and St. Elias Stables, completed 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.71 and paid $7.10 as the second choice in a field of seven. Bendoog finished a neck in front of Masqueparade for the place, with Time for Trouble one length behind in fourth. Kuchar and Signator were next under the wire, while Good Skate was pulled up in the stretch and was vanned off.

A four-year-old son of Curlin, Crupi was still a maiden when finishing up the track in his first two stakes tries in the 2023 Risen Star (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2). Victorious in his next two starts, Crupi was again found wanting at the graded level in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), but finished off the year with back-to-back wins in the Discovery S. and Queens County S., both at Aqueduct. He’s now won five of 15 starts.

Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm and sold for $275,000 at Keeneland September, Crupi was reared by Don’tforgetaboutme, a Malibu Moon half-sister to graded winners Beautician, Red Ruby, and Mo Tom.