With Moe Trouble scratched just before the horses were loaded into the starting gate, the field for the 90th running of the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park was reduced to five runners. When the one-turn mile race was completed, four of those five horses were in a blanket finish, with 12-1 shot Tale of Silence getting the nod in a photo over Vulcan's Forge, with Tommy Macho third and Cloud Computing – the 2017 G1 Preakness winner making his first start since August – a close fourth. The official margins were a nose, a nose and a head.
Owned and bred by Charles Fipke, trained by Barclay Tagg and ridden to victory by Dylan Davis, Tale of Silence completed the one mile on a fast track in 1:36.14. He paid $26.60 to win. The Westchester was the first stakes victory for the 4-year-old colt by Tale of the Cat out of Silence Beauty, by Sunday Silence.
Conquest Big E, coming off a front-running win at Gulfstream Park in the G2 Hardacre Mile Stakes, set off to a big early lead under jockey Jose Batista, zipping through an opening quarter mile in :22.91 and a half in :45.92. Cloud Computing and Tommy Macho raced as a team in second and third, Tale of Silence several lengths behind them and Vulcan's Forge the trailer after breaking slowly.
Tommy Macho and Cloud Computing put away Conquest Big E after six furlongs in 1:20.87, but they were joined by Tale of Silence coming up the rail and Vulcan's Forge on the far outside. Those four raced as a team to the wire, with Tale of Silence getting the head-bob over his three rivals.
“In the last couple jumps, I thought I had it,” said Davis. “I did a little fist bump when I just got up. We just let him break out of there, let him come out there running across the chute and let him get comfortable. I just let him get into his own stride because it was hot up front. I knew he was comfortable. He was just going his own way. He got into stride, switched leads and picked it up a little bit. I was inching him along and just using him [in the turn]. Turning for home, there was a big gap down on the inside and he shot right through it. He paid it no mind. He knew what he had to do today.”
Tale of Silence was winless in six starts since an allowance race last April at Belmont Park, though he was second to Practical Joke in the G3 Dwyer. He came into the Westchester with just that win and a maiden victory at Belmont in September 2016 from 16 starts.
“He's never had a bad problem or anything like that, but he likes this track,” said Tang. “He likes the big, wide turn. I don't think he likes tight turns. One mile, one turn is his game, and this track is so big, he's got a lot of freedom, he just doesn't like tight turns, but he got it today.
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