Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Comfort saved ground early and put in a strong drive through the lane to prevail by a nose in the inaugural running of the $100,000 Seattle Slew on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Favored at 2-5 and under the guidance of Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Comfort broke from the rail and held his inside position as Baccelo led a tightly bunched field of five through an opening quarter mile in 23.57 seconds and a half in 47.02. Settled about two lengths from the leader, Velazquez asked for run as the field rounded the far turn.
The 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt angled wide into the stretch as Touchofstarquality overtook the pacesetter. The pair traded bobs down to the wire as Comfort emerged victorious in a tight photo for the win, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.28.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the winner returned $2.90 for a $2 win ticket.
“He broke good enough and I tried to keep it at close as I can,” said Velazquez. “The dirt started hitting him and he started backing up, and I said 'this is no time to back up, you got to keep going forward.' I was fine when I got him to the outside. But he was giving me everything he could. I just got barely got it. I'm really proud of him.”
A $45,000 yearling purchase, Comfort notched his first stakes victory in the State Dinner over the local track in July and went on to finish second in his Grade 1 debut, coming within two lengths of Frosted in the Whitney on August 6 at Saratoga Race Course. The Seattle Slew was his fifth overall victory from nine starts for career earnings of $459,340.
Now perfect in three starts at Belmont, Comfort is possible to return in the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 8, said Pletcher's Belmont-based assistant Byron Hughes.
“I knew our horse would come running; he's been very consistent,” said Hughes. “He's run well on every track he's run on, is three-for-three here too. The Jockey Club Gold Cup would seem to be very high on the radar. We'll see how he comes back and go from there.”
Baccelo held on for third, followed by Mylute and Tapin Mojo to complete the order of finish.
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