Sent to the post as the even-money favorite, Peter Brant's Homerique had to work hard to deny her stablemate Competitionofideas (3-1) in the stretch run of Friday's Grade 2 New York Stakes. Both trained by Chad Brown, the top two finishers pulled away from the rest of the field by open lengths in the final eighth of a mile, but it was Irad Ortiz and Homerique who came away with the victory by a neck. The 4-year-old daughter of Exchange Rate completed 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's firm turf in 2:00.60.
“Homerique saved more ground on the turn and had a shorter distance to the wire, but then again, she had a good amount of energy in reserve,” said Brown. “Competitionofideas really ran a great race from the back. She was completely out of position early, which is not uncharacteristic for her, given her lack of early speed. She came around horses and did the best she could to come up short to a really good horse. They're both nice horses. Unfortunately, one of them had to be the loser after running so well, but we gave them the opportunity to both run well and they both did.”
Lady Montdore broke on top and took the early lead, but when she put up a first quarter in :25.24 Jose Ortiz sent longshot Giant Zinger up to take command through a half in :50.45. Those two were followed by Semper Sententiae, and Homerique got prime position along the rail in fourth as Competitionofideas held her customary position at the rear of the field.
“I had a perfect trip from the outside post,” explained Irad Ortiz. “Even though we don't really like that post we worked it out good. I wasn't so happy with the position I had when we went to the backside, so I made the decision to take a little hold, and drop in, and then get into the pack. She appreciated that. Then she came out of the pack more than in the clear. The fractions were slow, but she handled everything pretty good. She's a very nice horse, a real professional.”
Homerique made her bid in the turn and took the lead early in the stretch, but Competitionofideas was rolling down the center of the course. It was just those two open lengths in front of the rest of the field in the final eighth of a mile, but Homerique came out on top by a neck. Competitionofideas had to settle for second, and it was a long way back to Semper Sententiae in third. Holy Helena got up for fourth.
“She missed the break from out of the gate,” said jockey Javier Castellano of runner-up Competitionofideas. “From there, I had to use my own judgement, but I think it could have cost me the race. We were too far back. I wish we could've been closer to the pace. Either way, I got beat by a good horse. We were second best today.”
Bred in Kentucky by Nicky and Francois Drion, Homerique was an $81,473 juvenile at the Arqana Breeze-Up sale. She began her career in France, winning a Group 3 and twice placing in Group 1 company, and won her first North American start in the G3 Beaugay last month. The New York Stakes improves her overall record to 4-1-2 from eight starts for earnings of approximately $750,000.
“She's good and she's done well,” Brant said. “She did well in France, too. It was good because it was a little close to the last race, so I was a little concerned, but she's really good. Very high class.”
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