Despite a slow early pace that should have compromised him, Seth Klarman and William Lawrence's Bricks and Mortar proved his class in Saturday's Grade 1 Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Off as the even-money favorite, the 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway came from mid-pack to hit the wire a head in front of 13-1 chance Qurbaan.
It was the third win on the card for champion jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., and a bit of a redemption for trainer Chad Brown and the owners as their filly Newspaperofrecord was defeated on Friday. Bricks and Mortar, winner of the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf earlier this year, covered nine furlongs over Churchill's firm turf in 1:51.80.
“It's a great day,” said Ortiz. “I can't complain. Nice horses. He's a nice horse. He did everything right. He put himself in the game and took me all the way to the stretch and when I asked him he exploded. He's a horse when you ask him, he responds right away.”
Markitoff and Clyde's Image were both quick off the blocks and joined up to set the pace crossing under the wire for the first time. Qurbaan was right there tracking from third, while Prime Attraction accompanied him on the outside. Meanwhile, Ortiz had settled Bricks and Mortar on the outside of rivals back in ninth around the clubhouse turn.
With a slight advantage down the backstretch, Markitoff set measured fractions of :24.33, :50.10 and 1:15.08, very slow fractions for a Grade 1 turf race. Rounding the far turn, however, Clyde's Image was able to take command just as Qurbaan angled off the rail to make his bid three-wide.
Qurbaan kicked clear of the pack, but once Ortiz found clear running room for Bricks and Mortar, he had the measure of the frontrunner. Down the stretch Bricks and Mortar dug in down the center of the course, and hit the wire a head in front of Qurbaan for the victory. Clyde's Image hung on to finish third, while Raging Bull checked in fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Bricks and Mortar is out of the Ocean Crest mare Beyond the Waves. In 10 career starts, the intact horse has won eight times and compiled earnings of over $3.7 million.
“He has a tremendous heart,” Brown said in the winner's circle. “I'm just so proud of him. He had to work for it today. He might not win by a lot, but he knows where the wire is. He's a super-talented colt. The ($1 million Grade I) Manhattan (on June 8) is next.”
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