On Thursday evening at Gulfstream Park, trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. were crowned the 2018 Eclipse Award winners in their respective categories. On Saturday, the pair teamed up to take down the inaugural running of the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational with the lightly-raced Bricks and Mortar for owners Seth Klarman and William Lawrence. A 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, Bricks and Mortar was making just his second start off a 14-month layoff, but the intact horse pulled away to a convincing 2 1/2-length win as the second choice at odds of 5-2. Racing over the rain-soaked “yielding” turf course, Bricks and Mortar covered 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.59.
“For a little while there, I didn't think I'd have a horse for the race,” admitted Brown. “I had been resting a lot of them. Bricks and Mortar came in fresh when I was resting other ones. Thanks to Seth [Klarman] and Bill [Lawrence], they were game enough to put up a big entry fee and give it a shot. The horse just performed beautifully.”
The Irish invader Magic Wand made up ground along the inside to finish second at 9-1, while royally-bred Delta Prince ran well to finish third, also at 9-1. Catapult ran fourth at 6-1, while the 2-1 favorite Yoshida finished off the board.
“The bottom line is [Yoshida] wasn't making up much ground on them from the eighth pole to the wire,” trainer Bill Mott said of the favorite's effort. “I'm not going to give him a huge excuse. As it turns out, maybe Yoshida is going to be better on the dirt.”
Bricks and Mortar was sharp enough out of the starting gate, and in fact was just behind the first flight of horses heading into the clubhouse turn. Up front, the speedy mare Fahan Mura took command over Dubby Dubbie and Aerolithe through a first quarter in :22.94.
Ortiz eased Bricks and Mortar back to fifth, and was able to keep the horse calm when several jockeys launched mid-race bids. The most visible was Catapult, winging around the outside from sixth to take the lead and mark the half-mile in :47.93, about three-quarters of a length ahead of Fahan Mura. Magic Wand and Delta Prince also started to make their moves, splitting around the patiently waiting Bricks and Mortar.
Next Shares also passed Bricks and Mortar on the inside, but Ortiz never panicked and waited as long as he could. When Channel Maker moved up alongside Bricks and Mortar in near-last position, Ortiz let his mount keep pace and wound up three-wide as the field make the turn for home.
Suddenly Ortiz and Bricks and Mortar were up into fourth position, chasing Catapult into the lane. Delta Prince took over from Catapult in the stretch, but Bricks and Mortar was coming like a freight train and easily overwhelmed that rival. Ortiz pumped his fist as he crossed under the wire first with Bricks and Mortar, winning by 2 1/2 lengths.
“I got a perfect trip,” said Ortiz, Jr. “My horse put me in a good position and just held it together, saving ground. When I got kicked him out, he exploded.
“The horse is good, but the trainer we have to get him credit. He gave him some time off and brought him back, give him one race in the allowance race and bring him back ready for this race. That's a lot of work. Not too many trainers can do that. He's got good horses, but he knows what he's doing, and he's really good, too.”
Magic Wand had continuing making up ground along the inside and was game late to nose out Delta Prince for second, while Catapult was able to hold fourth position. It was tight for fifth between Channel Maker and Yoshida, but Channel Maker won the photo. Next Shares, Dubby Dubbie, Aerolithe, and Fahan Mura completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Jr., Bricks and Mortar was a $200,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. He debuted in February of his sophomore season and won at first asking to kick off a four-race win streak, including the G2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes. He then ran third twice in the G3 Saranac and G3 Hill Prince before he was given 14 months away from the races.
“Ian Brennan at Stonestreet Farm did a terrific job rehabbing this horse,” Brown credited. “Dr. Larry Bramlage worked on this horse about 16 months ago when it looked like he might have a career-ending injury. He fixed him. There was a lot of teamwork, a lot of patience. When you go into a race this big take a big gamble – it paid off today.”
Returning to the starting gate in December of 2018, Bricks and Mortar got up late to win a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park.
Overall, the horse has won six of his eight starts to earn approximately $3 million.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) January 26, 2019
Addtional Quotes From Connections:
Jimmy Jerkens (Delta Prince, 3rd): “He had him in a nice spot and he made a nice gradual move. He looked awful tough turning for home but that turf is soft and that was a good horse who won it obviously. Maybe if my horse had been out in a little bit better part of the turf where there haven't been as many horses running but [the winner] just pulled away from us. [Delta Prince] just got a little tired at the end to lose second but we were really thrilled with his effort.”
Frankie Dettori (Delta Prince, 3rd): “He ran a super race. He has a big heart. He was going so well that I thought turning for home, 'We've got this.' Just got outrun by two good horses in the end. Super effort. It paid for the expenses – and the night out.”
John Sadler (Catapult, 4th): “Kind of a strange ride. I thought he moved way too soon. He was in front with a half-mile to go. I thought he'd be covered up a little longer. Maybe he got a little rank, but I haven't spoken to the jock yet. He ran very well, but a strange trip.”
Joel Rosario (Catapult, 4th): “He broke fine. At one point in the race, I went on the outside and I had him covered up for a second and then I just let him go on with it because I was grabbing him too much at one point. I thought for a second we were going to be fine but probably that hurt him a little bit for the end.”
Bill Mott (Channel Maker, 5th; Yoshida, 6th): “The bottom line is [Yoshida] wasn't making up much ground on them from the eighth pole to the wire. I'm not going to give him a huge excuse. As it turns out, maybe Yoshida is going to be better on the dirt.”
“[Channel Maker is] a little hard to handle sometimes and sometimes he'll try and run up on heels. But it looks like eventually he got him out and he had the clear length of the stretch to run them down and just couldn't do it.”
Javier Castellano (Channel Maker, 5th): “I got a good break out of the gate, I think my horse fell into position, but turning for home I had the opportunity to hook up with the winner, just couldn't keep up with the pace.”
Jose Ortiz (Yoshida, 6th): “He broke good. He was last but he was in touch with the field and I saved ground. By the backside I wanted to go on but then Channel Maker got position on me so I had to take back a little and drop back in, and I followed Irad from that point on and I thought that I was in a good position before we hit the three-eighths pole but he didn't give me that late kick.”
Tyler Gaffalione (Next Shares, 7th): “He put in an effort coming into the stretch. He made a nice move around the far turn, just couldn't sustain it. It was a nice field, but he put in a big effort and great job by [trainer] Richard [Baltas] and his team. They had him ready. Just a tough race. A little more cut in the ground, I don't think he favors that. But he'll come back strong and we'll get him next time.”
Bob Hess (Dubby Dubbie, 8th): “He broke great and had a beautiful trip until about the five-eighths pole and then he got surrounded on the outside by a few. Frankly I thought he ran great. We were at ninety plus to one, but I'm real proud of him. Maybe with another two-three weeks with our program, we'll learn more about him and maybe he can improve a little more.”
Florent Geroux (Aerolithe, 9th): “I was very disappointed to be honest because she got away from the gate very sharply. I got a great position. I was laying second off the filly on the lead [Fahan Mura]. So I was in the perfect spot and it didn't feel like the pace was going crazy fast. I felt like I was controlling things. When Catapult came to me – I thought he came a little bit soon – but when he came next to me, she had no response. She just gave up right away.”
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