Making his first start in North America as well as his first in stakes company, OTI Racing, Laurent Dassault, and Elisa Berte's Amade found the winner's circle at odds of 6-1 in Friday's Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational. The 5-year-old son of Casamento was ridden by Flavien Prat for trainer Alessandro Botti, and after two grueling miles he defeated the 2-1 favorite Arklow by about a neck on the wire. The final time over Belmont's firm turf course was 3:19.95.
“I knew the distance would be no problem for him,” Botti said. “He can gallop forever. He drifted out in the stretch because he got lost a little bit out there. That's usual for him. It's why he wears blinkers. He's been racing on the all-weather because in the winter in France the ground is really, really heavy and I didn't want to get my horse really tired. The horses are very tired after those races because the ground is so deep. The all-weather is much easier on the horse and this [the turf] is what we were hoping for and pointing for. I wanted fast ground for him and that is what he likes and what he got today.
“The horse will not stay here. This race was a prep for the Melbourne Cup [in Australia]. Today was a test. He had to win today for, in my mind, to go on to the Melbourne Cup. He was comfortable today and it was a good race for him.”
Mootasadir was hustled out of the gate to take the early lead, tracked through the early stages by Raa Atoll in fractions of :25.33, :52.07, and 1:43.66. Meanwhile, Arklow was third early and tucked back into fourth when Red Knight made a mid-race move, while Amade was content to trail the cluster of horses in second-last all the way up to the far turn.
Red Knight took the lead briefly at the head of the stretch, but a bullish Arklow made his way through a narrow gap at the fence and took over the lead. Amade made up ground fluidly down the center of the lane, well away from his rival Arklow, and was able to hit the wire a neck in front. Arklow finished a well-fought second, while longshot Highland Sky came from last to gain third. Canessar was fourth, and Red Knight had to settle for fifth.
“I got through on the inside, beautiful trip,” said Florent Geroux, who rode Arklow. “But when I came in, the winner already had the momentum and he was very far outside and my horse never really saw him until late. When he saw him, it was like, 'okay I'm going,' but it was a little bit too late. He had no problems with the distance. He galloped out in front of everybody.”
Bred in Ireland by Eamonn McEvoy, Amade was a $38,821 purchase at last fall's Arqana Deauville mixed sale. He has only been off the board twice in his career, and had not finished worse than second since August of 2018. The gelding's overall record now stands at eight wins from 13 starts with earnings nearing $375,000.
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