On paper, Saturday’s $250,000 Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont Park appeared to be packed with early speed. Five horses faced the starter in the 7-furlong sprint for sophomores, and at least four figured to vie for early supremacy.
But when the gates opened in the first graded stakes race on Belmont Stakes Day, No Parole made a mockery of pre-race projections. The speedy front-runner bounded out of post 1 and surprisingly met with little resistance in the battle for early supremacy. Thus, the son of Violence shrugged his shoulders, capitalized on his uncontested advantage, and romped away down the lane to record a runaway victory.
“He did it perfect. (Speed) was the game plan,” winning jockey Luis Saez remarked. “You always want to slow the pace as much as you can, and today they gave me the opportunity, so we took it. I think it worked pretty good.”
“Pretty good” could be considered an understatement. Though No Parole led by at least a length at every call, he was allowed to post fractions of :22.31 and :45.01, easy splits for a Grade 1 sprint. Stakes winners Meru and Mischevious Alex were content to track the pace, and though Shoplifted and Echo Town tried to mount rallies on the turn, by the top of the stretch it was clear the pacesetter would not be caught.
“He came out of the gate perfect and he put me in a perfect spot,” Saez continued. “We came to the half-mile and I had a lot of horse. When we hit the stretch, he took off. I was sitting chilly and I knew I had a lot of horse. When everyone got close to him (turning for home), he took off again.”
No Parole drew away with authority down the homestretch, crossing the finish line clear by 3 3/4 lengths in the time of 1:21.41. Echo Town forged clear of Shoplifted to gain the runner-up spot, while Mischevious Alex and Meru weakened to complete the order of finish.
Owned by Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin, No Parole has put together a solid career record under the care of trainer Tom Amoss. Produced by the Bluegrass Cat mare Plus One, the Louisiana-bred youngster has won five of his six starts, the lone defeat coming in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“I think No Parole’s game is his speed,” Amoss said. “He’s shown that in all his races. To be able to draw the inside and take advantage of that with a good rider like Saez, everything played out as we hoped.”
Amoss indicated No Parole, who sold for $75,000 as a yearling, would stick to sprinting with an eye toward competing in the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.
“No Parole is a one-turn horse for sure,” he added. “We’ll get together with the ownership and we’ll sit down and map out a plan. We’re very excited about his future and we’re already thinking about the first weekend in November.”