Winning over the same track and distance on which his sire, Birdstone, upset Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes in 2004, Preston Stables' Birdrun proved too tough on the front end in Friday's Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park, beating 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer and giving Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott a one-two finish in the mile and a half fixture run for the 123rd time. Alma d'Oro finished third, followed by Eldaafer and Afleet Again in the five-horse field. Final time on a fast track was 2:28.24. Birdrun paid $7.30 for the win.
It was a big day for Mott, who 30 minutes earlier won the G3 Poker with Martin and Pam Wygods' Courageous Cat.
Birdrun, a 5-year-old son of the Grindstone stallion Birdstone out of Run Like Martha, by Jolie's Halo, was bred in Florida by the late Arthur I. Appleton. The victory was his sixth in 19 career starts and first in a graded stakes. His most impressive previous victory came in an October 2009 allowance win at Belmont Park, when he won by 8 1/4 lengths and set a new track record of 1:39.38 for 1 1/16 miles. He was coming off a narrow defeat to Drosselmeyer in the mile and a quarter One Count overnight stakes, a prep for the Brooklyn (in fact, four of the five starters prepped in the May 15 One Count). Drosselmeyer was the 6-5 Brooklyn favorite.
Birdrun wrestled the lead from Eldaafer, setting fractions of :24.81 for the opening quarter, then :49.71, 1:13.88, and 1:38.21 for the opening mile. Drosselmeyer moved up to challenge on the turn, the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.94, but Birdrun repelled the bid and drew off willingly.
Birdrun is from the 2006 first crop of foals by Birdstone, who stands at Gainesway Farm.
BROOKLYN HANDICAP PRESENTED BY RAM (G2) QUOTES
Bill Mott, winning trainer of Birdrun (No. 4) and beaten favorite Drosselmeyer (No. 2): “Big day. Big day. We thought he'd be on the lead. Last time, he was on the lead at a mile and a quarter. Drosselmeyer rolled up at the quarter pole, but didn't fire his best shot today. Both horses deserved to run today. Birdrun broke his maiden for $35,000 at Saratoga. We're lucky we didn't lose him.
“There's not a lot of races like this in America. It's great to watch a race at a mile and a half, a mile and a quarter.”
Rajiv Maragh, winning jockey aboard Birdrun (No. 4): “[Drosselmeyer] only beat us a neck the last time and the race today kind of played in my favor. It all worked out well – my horse ran hard all the way and he came home victorious. This field was bred to go a mile and a half.”
Jose Lezcano, rider of runner-up and beaten favorite Drosselmeyer (No. 2): “I actually got a very good trip. I followed the other horse and the pace was very good, and when I asked him the other horse kept going. My horse, he tried hard. At the three-eighths pole I started asking my horse and he started to pick it up, but the other horse never stopped. He just kept going.”
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