Making his first start since finishing second to Shekky Shebaz in the Lucky Coin this summer at Saratoga Race Course, Godolphin homebred Final Frontier turned the tables on his rival to capture the fourth running of the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Breaking alertly from post 3 at 3-1 with Jose Lezcano aboard, Final Frontier stalked 8-5 mutuel favorite Shekky Shebaz from third position as the favorite led the seven-horse field through swift fractions of 22.46 seconds for the opening quarter-mile with the half in 44.29 under pressure from Fully Vested.
At the quarter-pole, Final Frontier moved four-wide and quickly passed stablemate Fully Vested and engaged the leader at the sixteenth-pole before extending away from Shekky Shebaz to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
He completed the six-furlong distance in a final time of 1:07.39 over a firm Widener turf course.
“He broke real good today,” said Lezcano. “He was right there. The two horses [Shekky Shebaz and Fully Vested] were going head to head, and I was sitting third outside of them. When I asked him, he gave me a really good race. He finished really well.”
Returning $8.20 for a $2 win wager, the 4-year-old Ghostzapper colt boosted his career earnings to $240,010, picking up his second win of the year from four starts and first stakes win.
Winning trainer Tom Albertrani said the Lucky Coin was a touch short for the improving Final Frontier last out.
“Five and a half [furlongs] is just a little too short because he [Final Frontier] has the stamina to go a little bit longer,” said Albertrani. “He showed that he can win at a mile in the past but since we shortened him up it's really made a different horse out of him. He's a much better sprinter.”
Albertrani said the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in November at Santa Anita may be in the cards for Final Frontier depending on how he comes out of the race.
“It is a concern,” said Albertrani. “I thought about that, but it is the Breeders' Cup. Might have to take a shot in there. I don't think Fully Vested would go. It's up to if we get an invite.”
Following Shekky Shebaz in second was Fully Vested, Gidu, Disco Partner, They Shot Sonny and Hawkish.
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