Since coming off of a 14-month layoff, Bricks and Mortar has done no wrong and the 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway continued his winning ways in Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan.
The Chad Brown trainee made his triumphant comeback against allowance company over the turf at Gulfstream Park in December before taking the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf. Following a narrow victory in the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial at Fair Grounds, Bricks and Mortar built on that success, winning the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.
In the Manhattan, Bricks and Mortar laid sixth early on under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. and went four wide around the turn, taking the 1 ¼ mile event over the inner turf by 1 ½ lengths. Bricks and Mortar recorded a 106 Beyer Speed Figure for the win.
“He had an early start in December and to keep it going at this level, it's just been a remarkable run,” Brown said. “There are a lot of Grade 1s next to his name and on the turf that's hard to do. He takes good care of himself. I know he had that long break and he had some injuries, but he's been back and he trains kindly. He doesn't train too fast, he really takes good care of himself. He's a very smart horse and I think that is a big part of his success as well.”
Brown scored the trifecta in the Manhattan, running second and third with Grade 1-winners Robert Bruce and Raging Bull.
Bricks and Mortar was purchased for $200,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Stone Farm. He spent his down time at Stonestreet Training Center in Ocala, Florida. Brown spoke highly of Stonestreet, and credited them for helping develop Bricks and Mortar into a top-class runner.
“Mike Ryan and I bought him as a yearling and he does all the scouting for us. Stonestreet broke the horse for us and they rehabbed him, every time he had an injury,” Brown said. “Ian Brennan and his staff have done a remarkable job. There was one point I didn't think the horse would come back and Ian saw it through with his staff to really put a lot of time in. And when he finally sent him back, he told me 'You're good to go'. This horse is finally doing better than ever. You can't get to this level with a horse like this without a strong team top-to-bottom.”
Bricks and Mortar's victory in the Manhattan was the 14th stakes victory of the meet for Brown, who won six other graded stakes events during the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Asmussen relishes two Grade 1 wins
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen may not have won a Triple Crown race this year, but he was prominent on the undercard races starting with Kentucky Derby weekend when he won three Grade 1s; and at Pimlico on Preakness Day where he won the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint with New York Central; and concluding Belmont Stakes Day when he won the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps with Midnight Bisou and Grade 1 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap with Mitole.
Both horses were scheduled to fly back to Churchill Downs Monday where they will be “petted on and loved on” by the barn before heading to Saratoga for the summer.
“They came back really well,” Asmussen said. “I'm very happy with how they are doing and excited for who they are.”
L. William and Corinne Heiliogbrodt's Mitole extended his win streak to seven while stretching out to a mile for a first time.
“I'm very proud of that effort against such a strong field assembled for this year's Met Mile,” Asmussen said.
Midnight Bisou, owned by Bloom Racing, Allen Racing and Madaket Stables, was also adding to a win streak in the Ogden Phipps, remaining a perfect 4-for-4 this year.
“Midnight Bisou has just hit a new level this year,” Asmussen said. “She just walks around like she knows she's going to win.”
Asmussen just missed a third Grade 1 on the card when Nitrous closed well for second in the Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun. The trainer said he will stay in New York and head straight to Saratoga.
“Nitrous was very strong,” Asmussen said. “He ran really well against the track bias.”
Sadler has options for Catalina Cruiser
Trainer John Sadler said Grade 2 True North winner Catalina Cruiser could possibly target a second victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Diego Handicap on July 20 at Del Mar with the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course also a possibility for the 5-year-old son of Union Rags.
Owned by Hronis Racing, Catalina Cruiser picked up his third stakes victory in the True North, which was his first start since a distant sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs.
“He pulled up well and gets back to home base tomorrow,” Sadler said. “He's a really good horse so we weren't surprised to see him run so big off the layoff. He didn't break well and had a tough trip and still won.”
Catalina Cruiser was hustled out of the gate by jockey Joel Rosario and was between horses approaching the far turn. He made a three-wide move at the top of the stretch and got past Strike Power and Recruiting Ready to win by a half-length.
Catalina Cruiser recorded a 103 Beyer from his triumph in the True North.
Bred in Kentucky by William Farish, Catalina Cruiser is out of the black type producing Mineshaft broodmare Sea Gull, who also is the mother of graded stakes winner Eagle. He was purchased for $370,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015, where he was consigned by Lanes' End.
World of Trouble in fine fettle following G1 Jaipur win
World of Trouble picked up his fifth consecutive victory and third career graded stakes win with an impressive 1 3/4 length victory in the Grade 1, $400,000 Jaipur Invitational on Saturday.
“He came back good this morning,” said Henry Argueta, assistant to trainer Jason Servis. “He's a nice horse and he proved it again on Saturday.”
The 4-year-old Kantharos colt, owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stable, passed the million-dollar mark in earnings with the victory boosting his bankroll to $1,263,300. He improved his record to nine wins from 13 starts with two second-place finishes and one third.
“We'll discuss with Jason on where we might point to next, but he's doing great and ate up all his feed. It's exciting to have a horse that talented in the barn,” said Argueta.
Also running from the Servis barn on Saturday was Grumps Little Tots for owners Michael Dubb, Coyle Boys Stable and Bethlehem Stables, who ran third in the Easy Goer and 4-year-old multiple graded stakes winner Firenze Fire, who finished fifth in the Grade 1 Runhappy Metropolitan.
“They each came out of their races well,” said Argueta. “Firenze Fire was really tired. It was a touch race. Grumps Little Tots also gave a good effort. We'll move forward from here with both.”
Come Dancing exits Ogden Phipps in good order, G1 Ballerina could be next
Trainer Carlos Martin reported Sunday morning that Come Dancing emerged from her runner-up finish in Saturday's Grade 1 Ogden Phipps in fine fettle and will be freshened up with an eye toward Saratoga.
A 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon, Come Dancing was sent off as the odds-on favorite in the Ogden Phipps by virtue of two dominant victories in a pair of graded stakes victories on the NYRA circuit. She took a slight stumble at the start but went out to lead the field for much of the way, though she unable to hold off Midnight Bisou, who surged by at the eighth pole and went on to win by 3 ½ lengths.
“She's great, she came out of the race super,” said Martin, who trains Come Dancing for Blue Devil Racing Stable. “She ran against a champion who's made three million and is eight-for-eight at that distance, so no disgrace finishing second. I'm proud of my filly.
“She set a pretty fast pace,” Martin added. “I know the track was fast but those were serious fractions. They went a mile in 1:33 and she hung in for second. We took a shot in a Grade 1 and I thought she ran a great race. Midnight Bisou ran an even better one.”
Having excelled at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, Martin said a slight turn back may be the key to unlocking the uber-talented mare's full potential. Two races ago, Come Dancing won the Grade 3, seven-furlong Distaff Handicap with a 114 Beyer Speed Figure, and it is at that distance Martin is hopeful his star trainee will be able to shine at Saratoga.
“It just so happens there's a Grade 1 race at seven-eighths at Saratoga, the Ballerina,” said the trainer. “We'll give her a little break and point to that race. I think she could be very competitive in there.”
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