They would have been wrong.
Marconi wrapped up the 2019 Belmont Stakes Festival in style with a hard-fought, half-length victory in the Brooklyn Invitational (G2) to close out Saturday at Big Sandy.
Grabbing command from the start, the gray son of Tapit proceeded to set the pace through splits of :25.16, :50.87, 1:16.17, 1:40.45 and 2:04.17. Contested at the same 1 1/2-mile distance as the Belmont Stakes, many probably expected the Brooklyn to end with a closer running Marconi down in the lane. The Todd Pletcher-trained four-year-old proved too tenacious, though, digging deep under jockey Jose Lezcano and holding off five runners who hit the wire together.
“He broke a little slow. He was looking around a little bit, but after that, I sent him and let him gallop alone on the lead,” Lezcano said. “When I asked at the three-sixteenths pole, he gave me everything he had and went on to win the race. I wanted to be close. When the other Pletcher horse came to me, I wouldn’t give him the lead.”
“The plan wasn’t to be on the front but we wanted him to be in the race. Especially from the one-hole, I didn’t want him to be shuffled back and over complicate things for him,” Pletcher said. “Once Jose was able to establish that spot, the fractions were very reasonable. He kept finding a way to get it done.
“It seems like he’s really found his niche. He’s gradually improving and been a lot more consistent in not only his races, but also training,” the trainer added. “I was happy to see him continue moving forward.”
Marconi stopped the clock in 2:28.97 over the fast main track and returned $10.40 as the 5-1 third choice in the eight-horse field. Campaigned by Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael B. Tabor, the colt is trained by Todd Pletcher.
It was half-length back to Rocketry, who ran in seventh during the early part of the race. That Jimmy Jerkens-trained five-year-old has now finished behind Marconi in three straight starts. On Saturday, Rocketry took second by a head over 20-1 longshot Realm, who in turn had a neck to spare on 7-2 second choice Campaign. You’re to Blame, the 5-2 favorite, followed in fifth by a nose while holding Soneeteer to sixth by that same margin on the wire. Bibilical and War Story were both distanced.
Marconi more than doubled his lifetime earnings to $424,702 and improved his career record to read 9-4-1-1. The gray colt earned his first graded score in this spot but previously captured the Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream Park and Flat Out Stakes at Belmont. He also finished third in last year’s Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.
According to Pletcher, the $700,000 Suburban Stakes (G2) on July 6 at Belmont Park could be next for Marconi.
“From here, we’ll consider going a mile and a quarter in the Suburban. A prestigious race like that would mean a lot for him,” Pletcher said.
Bred by Brushwood Stable in Kentucky, Marconi brought the gavel down for $2 million as a Keeneland September yearling.
Marconi is out of the stakes-winning Ponche mare Ponche de Leona, making him a half-brother to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hero, $5-million earner and sire Mucho Macho Man.