Alto Racing's Anchor Down led the five-horse field of Saturday's G2 Kelso Handicap all the way around the one-mile course, drawing away at the end to win by two lengths at Belmont Park. The 5-year-old son of Tapit, ridden by Javier Castellano, stopped the clock in 1:32.90 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
“He's run well every time in a one-turn mile at Belmont, it seems to be his thing,” said Pletcher. “It was no disgrace being second to Frosted in the Met Mile that day – I don't think anyone was going to beat Frosted. To come back and run a mile in 1:32 and 4/5 fifths, as a well-bred son of Tapit, it's a big win for him.”
Anchor Down jumped out of the gates well and was hustled up to the lead by a half-length over Tamarkuz and Ocean Knight through a first quarter in :23.30. Anchor Down had extended that lead to a full length through a half-mile in :45.74, drawing away from Tamarkuz a bit. Ocean Knight maintained third along the rail, while Tommy Macho tracked the paced from fourth position.
Turning for home, Tamarkuz rallied up two-wide to challenge for the lead, and was a neck behind Anchor Down at the top of the lane. Changing leads smoothly, Anchor Down easily pulled away from his rival, crossing the wire well within himself to win by about two lengths. Tamarkuz retained second over Ocean Knight, and Point Piper was fourth.
“My main concern was focusing on breaking good out of the gate because this horse has had a couple of issues out the gate,” said Castellano. “He got a good clean trip and a good break so using my best judgment I put him on the lead. He's a great horse. He's a pro and he showed up today.”
Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Anchor Down was a $250,000 Keeneland September Yearling sale purchase. He finished second behind Frosted in this year's Met Mile, but was a disappointing sixth in the Vanderbilt on July 30. The Kelso was his first race since then, and the win brings Anchor Down's overall record to 5-2-2 from 16 starts, with earnings of over $700,000.
“We'll wait and see how he comes out of it,” Pletcher continued. “I would probably think a one-turn mile is a little more to his liking [than the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita going two turns]. We'll enjoy this one for the moment, but if I were guessing right now I'd probably lean toward the Cigar Mile [at Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, November 26].”
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