Third to controlling speed Heart to Heart in last year’s running, Jump Sucker Stable’s Blacktype got himself into the game earlier in Monday’s renewal of the $200,000 Knickerbocker (G2) at Belmont Park, and that was the key to his latest graded triumph.
The French-bred from the barn of compatriot Christophe Clement had captured the 2016 Commonwealth Turf Cup (G2) and Oceanport (G3), but his lone stakes credit so far this term was a third in the Dixie (G2) back on Preakness Day. A recent allowance score over this course put Blacktype back on song, and the rain didn’t hurt.
Although the inner course was officially labeled “good,” several races initially carded for turf were transferred to the main track. And the 3-1 Delta Prince, third in a yielding Bernard Baruch (G2) last time, scratched from his Knickerbocker engagement.
Under Joel Rosario, Blacktype stalked in second as Hello Don Julio carved out fractions of :24.27, :49.14, and 1:13.84. The son of Dunkerque swept to the front down the stretch and held the late-running Muqtaser safe by a length. Blacktype, a 5-1 chance, negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.33.
Muqtaser deserves extra credit as the only closer to threaten, particularly since he was shortening up from 1 1/2 miles. The Kiaran McLaughlin charge – second to War Flag back in June at Monmouth, twice a winner at Saratoga, and a close third in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) – is worth watching closely next time.
Hello Don Julio was a clear third from the staying-on Spring Quality, while Camelot Kitten wound up fifth, Smooth Daddy never factored in sixth, and 2-1 favorite Forge retreated from his early tracking position to seventh. Sir Dudley Digges and the off-form The Grey Gatsby trailed. Aside from Delta Prince, the other withdrawals were Mark My Style and main-track-only Vulcan’s Forge.
Blacktype’s resume now reads 27-9-3-8, $738,078. Bred by E.A.R.L. Haras Du Quesnay, the six-year-old gelding is out of the winning Anabaa mare Theorie. His fourth dam is none other than Natalma, world famous for producing Northern Dancer.
Quotes from Belmont
Winning trainer Christophe Clement: “It went very well. We were waiting all year long for that. It was a good performance. He’s a good horse. He’s had fine races on firm and soft (ground). It wasn’t that much of a concern.
“I thought he got into a good tactical position. He opened up well. I’m delighted. It took a while to get him back to where he’s supposed to be. He was unlucky at Saratoga (when sixth in the Lure). Sometimes, you need to be lucky as well. I loved his last race. He had a great prep race four weeks to this race. It worked out.”
Winning rider Joel Rosario: “We thought we were going to be 1-2 and then take it from there. And the race shaped up how we expected it to. I broke well and then the 1 horse (Hello Don Julio) showed a little speed, and we kind of just went along a little bit with him, and after that he just did the job. It was easy.
“He handled the (rain-affected course) really well and he ran a big race. Last time he got a win and now he stepped up to a graded stakes. He’s a nice horse. I work him in the morning with Christophe and he has a nice gallop. He’s a cool horse.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin on runner-up Muqtaser: “He ran very well, a little bit of traffic. He quickened there late for second and ran great. We will probably look at the Red Smith (G3) (November 11) at Aqueduct, a mile and three-eighths. He is a really nice horse and he tries hard every time.
“It (the added ground) probably will help, but today being soft and the weather forecast looking like it could possibly come off, and he loves the slop, so that is why we were in there, with both angles.”
Joe Bravo, who rode Muqtaser: “He handled more distance better in the past. A shame to get beat today. I am not going to make excuses.
“He is a cool horse. We didn’t know if he would handle the soft. There is a lot of water out there and didn’t know if the horse would handle it at all. He really sat on the line. Turning for home, I really thought I could go on and get him. No disrespect, (Blacktype) ran a big race today.”