Stuck behind a wall of horses at the quarter pole, it looked as though Bricks and Mortar's five-race win streak would come to an end in the 2019 Arlington Million. Ever-patient, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. found a hole and sent the 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway on through to make his bid for a third straight Grade 1 victory. Seth Klarman and William Lawrence's horse, favored at 1-2, responded valiantly to run down a hard-battling Bandua and fend off the filly Magic Wand to win by about three-quarters of a length. Bricks and Mortar completed 1 1/4 miles over Arlington's firm turf course in 1:59.44.
The win gave trainer Chad Brown a sweep of Arlington's G1 races, including the Bev D. with Sistercharlie and the Secretariat with Valid Point.
“It's a really rare horse,” Brown said. “I had my good luck charm here today, my daughter.”
A track record-setter in his most recent start at Arlington, Bandua rushed up from his outside post to take the lead out of the gate. He led European invader Hunting Horn by a length through fractions of :24.45 and :48.65, setting a moderate early pace over the field of nine. Early on, Bricks and Mortar was in sixth position against the rail, just behind the heels of the filly Magic Wand.
After six furlongs in 1:12.94, both Hunting Horn and Catcho En Die moved up to put pressure on Bandua. The leader pushed away to lead by a length again, while a six-wide wall of horses kept Bricks and Mortar blocked against the rail heading into the stretch.
Ortiz had to wait until the field straightened up, then he found a gap to send Bricks and Mortar on through. Bandua tried to kick away and looked strong until the final sixteenth of a mile, when Bricks and Mortar found his best stride and took the lead. Under the wire, Bricks and Mortar was three-quarters of a length ahead of the closing Magic Wand, who'd gone wide around the turn. Bandua was less than a half-length behind the runner-up, while defending Arlington Million winner Robert Bruce checked in third.
“He's just a great horse,” said Irad Ortiz Jr. after guiding Bricks and Mortar to victory. “That makes six in a row for me and him. The first time I got on him we won by a neck but I knew how much he had left and how special he was. The rest has been history. I never worry about anyone else in the race with this horse, I just concentrate on him and let him take me where he wants. When I ask for him he's there for me every time.
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge Jr., Bricks and Mortar was a $220,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale. He did not debut until his sophomore season, winning the G2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes in his fourth start, then ran a pair of thirds in graded company. After more than a year away from the races, Bricks and Mortar won an allowance race and then broke onto the big scene with a win in the inaugural G1 Pegasus Turf Invitational at Gulfstream. He has not lost since, and his overall record stands at 10 wins from 12 starts with earnings of over $4.9 million.
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