Ralph and Lauren Evans' Diversify had running on his mind this Saturday, flying out of the gate to take the lead and never relinquish it in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes. The 5-year-old Bellamy Road gelding, sent off at 6-1 odds, turned in a solid final time of 1:59.84 for the 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's fast main track. Ridden by Irad Ortiz for trainer Rick Violette, the New York-bred Diversify achieved millionaire status with the 6 1/2-length Suburban victory.
The 3-1 co-favorite Hoppertunity checked in fourth, behind Triple Crown winner Justify's half-brother The Lieutenant and Discreet Lover.
“I was surprised that we were pressed by horses other than Dr. Dorr [No. 5],” said Violette. “We were meant to be aggressive and Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] told me when he realized it was Zanotti [No. 3] and War Story [No. 2] he kind of just stepped on the gas. He did it pretty comfortably. I think this is his best race ever. He beat some nice horses, withstood some serious pressure, fast fractions and he obviously loves Belmont.”
Both War Story and Zanotti tentatively went for the lead leaving the starting gate, but Ortiz sent Diversify hard to secure the gelding's favored front-running position in the first eighth of a mile. Challenged by War Story about mid-way through the backstretch, Diversify remained unfazed to click through fractions of :23.47, :46.18, and 1:09.65. War Story fell back with Zanotti and tracked him from a joint second, with Dr. Dorr another several lengths back in fourth. Tapwrit was fifth, and The Lieutenant was sixth in the early going, with Discreet Lover just behind him. Hoppertunity was at the rear of the field.
Diversify continued to battle the clock all the way around the far turn, touching off a mile in 1:34 flat and turning for home with a four-length lead. The remainder of the field was strung out behind him as Ortiz rode Diversify through the wire, winning by a measured 6 1/2 lengths over The Lieutenant. Discreet Lover held third over Hoppertunity.
“My plan was to break and go,” said Ortiz. “I broke good, I sent him, and he took me the whole way. He was traveling perfect. I just went from there and started moving and he responded very well. He went fast, and he gave me another gear at the quarter pole.”
Bred in New York by Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding, Diversify was a $150,000 yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale, and was purchased by the Evans for $210,000 at Keeneland November at the end of his 3-year-old racing season. In the past two years, Diversify has captured a number of stakes races for his new connections, including the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Overall, Diversify has a record of nine wins and two seconds from 14 starts, earning over $1.3 million.
“We have five weeks to the [Grade 1] Whitney off his lifetime best I think,” Violette continued. “There's also the [Grade 1] Woodward four weeks later in the meet. We'll think about the fall as well. We would love to do the Whitney, but we'll see how he comes back from this effort.”
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