Trainer Chad Brown saddled the first three finishers in Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard, and it was Seth Klarman and William Lawrence's Bricks and Mortar who top his stablemates Robert Bruce and Raging Bull by 1 1/2 lengths on the wire. The winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf back in January and undefeated through four starts in 2019, Bricks and Mortar is a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway. Under jockey Irad Ortiz and at odds of 3-5, the horse completed 1 1/4 miles over the firm turf in 1:58.11 to give Brown his third win on the card.
“This ranks right up there,” said Brown. “I have to digest it first but it's certainly way up there. I hold this race in such high regard. To run 1-2-3 in it really points out how fortunate I am to have so many talented horses in my barn. To see the others be not far from Bricks and Mortar gives us hope they are going to have really good years as well.
“He ran great, he was carrying a lot of weight. Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] gave him a beautiful trip. He fell into a nice spot off the fence but had cover. Once again, he exploded in the stretch. This horse it just amazes me how consistently he is finishing on the turf. He's getting good trips, he's kicking at all different distances. [He's a] very rare horse.”
Bandua jumped out of the gate to take command of the early going, leading Qurbaan through a first quarter in :23.68. When he attempted to slow down the pace, Qurbaan and jockey Mike Smith took over down the backstretch to mark the half in :48.73. Smith's middle move appeared to backfire as Qurbaan did not want to come back and rate after taking the lead, and he opened up a four-length lead over Bandua approaching the far turn.
Behind those two, Channel Maker and Catcho En Die were up close with Robert Bruce and Bricks and Mortar covered up mid-pack. Raging Bull was against the rail in third-last, while Channel Cat and Olympico trailed.
Rounding the far turn, Qurbaan held the lead as far as he could until a three-wide Channel Maker challenged him near the head of the lane. Bricks and Mortar made a four-wide move behind him, while both Robert Bruce and Raging Bull were trying to find their way through the pack of horses to make their runs.
Down the stretch, Bricks and Mortar kicked away to lead by two lengths and appeared to gear down just a bit by the wire, crossing it 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Robert Bruce. Raging Bull was three-quarters of a length back in third, and Channel Maker was another half-length back to finish fourth.
“He's so good,” Ortiz said. “The track was really fast. He always shows up. Since I've been riding him he hasn't got beat yet. I love this horse. He's a fighter.”
The complete order of finish was: Bricks and Mortar, Robert Bruce, Raging Bull, Channel Maker, Channel Cat, Bandua, Olympico, Qurbaan, and Catcho En Die.
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Jr., Bricks and Mortar was a $200,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. He won his first four starts as a 3-year-old, then took more than a year away from the races. Returning in late 2018, Bricks and Mortar won an allowance races before taking the Pegasus World Cup Turf in January. He ran hard to win the G2 Muniz Memorial at the Fair Grounds next out, then did it again in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. Overall, Bricks and Mortar has won nine of his 11 starts (with two thirds) to earn over $4.3 million.
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