Diamonds in the Rough: October 4, 2015

Diamonds in the Rough: October 4, 2015

The first Saturday of the Keeneland meet brought a maiden special weight filled with promising two-year-old colts, but perhaps the most exciting juvenile racing action of the day was at Belmont Park, where a pair of races yielded impressive results. Let’s take a look at what happened!

OCTOBER 3rd

Keeneland Race 2: Maiden Special Weight
6 furlongs on dirt

Condominium was the 3-2 favorite after setting a fast pace and tiring in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) last time out, but he got involved in another battle for the lead on Saturday, dueling through fractions of :22.66 and :45.99 before tiring to finish fourth. In the meantime, Eddie Keneally’s Dan the Go to Man–taking advantage of a track that favored outside runners–settled four-wide while racing about three lengths off the pace, then rallied to take the lead inside the final furlong and draw off to win by 2 3/4 lengths in sharp fashion. The final time over a muddy, sealed track was playing rather quick was 1:10.80. One Good Eye endured a bit of a troubled trip racing near the rail and encountering traffic at the top of the stretch, but he rallied well in the final furlong to edge Whence by a neck for second. The latter tracked Condominium through the fast pace, secured the lead at the top of the stretch, but tired in the final furlong to finish third.

Link to the Equibase.com chart of Dan the Got to Man’s maiden win

Belmont Race 1: Maiden Special Weight
6.5 furlongs on dirt

Tom Albertrani’s River Dell was heavily-favored at 4-5 and lived up to expectations with a narrow triumph. With Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle, River Dell got off to a bit of a slow start but quickly recovered to track the pace in second, then made a bid on the outside to grab a narrow lead in the homestretch before tenaciously holding off a late run from Luminary Flight to triumph by a nose. The latter, a first-time starter trained by James Ryerson, also got off to a poor start and was away last before recovering to race in fourth after the opening quarter-mile, after which he rallied on the outside in the homestretch to fall just a nose short of catching River Dell. Basic Hero carved out fractions of :22.99 and :46.22 before tiring in the final furlong to finish third, 5 1/4 lengths behind the top pair.

Link to the Equibase.com chart of River Dell’s maiden win

Belmont Race 11: Maiden Special Weight
8.5 furlongs on dirt

Coming off of a third-place finish at Saratoga, Gift Box was favored to win this 8.5-furlong race, and he did so in a terrific performance that stamped himself as a definite candidate for major stakes races in the near future. Trained by Chad Brown, Gift Box raced 3-4 wide throughout while tracking quick fractions of :23.08, :46.28, and 1:10.91, then made a bid to challenge front-running Matt King Coal at the top of the stretch, Those two hooked up in a battle for command and soon opened up a huge lead on their rivals, with Gift Box getting up in the final strides to win by a nose in the sharp time of 1:43 flat. Incredibly, Gift Box and Matt King Coal finished eighteen lengths clear of third-place finisher Cumberland River, who was near the rear of the field early on before rallying mildly to finish third.

Link to the Equibase.com chart of Gift Box’s maiden win

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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