Zayat Stables’ Gidu prevailed as the 2-5 favorite in Saturday’s $98,000 Paradise Creek S. at Belmont Park, turning in a useful prep for the June 22 Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot. The sophomore son of Frankel, who was cutting back in trip off a 77-day layoff, got the seven-furlong job done in 1:20.44 on the firm Widener turf.
Although the margin was just a neck over late-running Curlin’s Honor, the Todd Pletcher trainee was well handled by Hall of Famer John Velazquez in a race designed to bring him on for next month’s major target. Gidu tracked in second as front-running Masked carved out splits of :22.05 and :44.31, then launched his bid down the lane. Masked put up a fight, but Gidu had him covered and edged clear.
Curlin’s Honor, well back in fourth early, made good progress on the inside before having to alter course around the leaders. The 7-2 second choice gained fast in deep stretch and came up just shy at the wire. Masked finished another length astern in third. There was a 5 3/4-length gap back to Ambassador Jim, the longtime trailer who overtook Black Stetson late for fourth.
The Commonwealth Cup is a six-furlong sprint, reserved for three-year-olds, down the Ascot straight. Hence it makes more sense for him to try his luck there than the other options available at the Royal meeting.
Irish-bred Gidu debuted sprinting on the turf at Saratoga, where he was second to a classy rival in Snapper Sinclair. Not seen again until the Gulfstream meet, Gidu broke his maiden convincingly in a five-furlong turf dash December 23. He stretched out to a mile in the February 3 Dania Beach (G3), just missing to Speed Franco, and successfully handled that distance last time in the March 10 Columbia S. at Tampa Bay Downs. Gidu will bring a 5-3-2-0, $166,000, record to Berkshire.
Bred by Ecurie des Monceaux, Gidu brought €410,000 as an Arqana August yearling. The gray is a half-brother to Grade 3 victress Marbre Rose (by Smart Strike). Their dam, the winning Unbridled’s Song mare Manerbe, is herself a half to Grade 1 scorer Zoftig, who produced Grade 1 winners Zo Impressive and Zaftig. Manerbe is also closely related to the dam of Grade 3 heroine Verve’s Tale and Tale of Verve, best of the rest behind the Zayats’ American Pharoah in the 2015 Preakness (G1).
Quotes from Belmont Park
Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez: “He hasn’t run in a while, so he was very keen today. I knew he could be pretty strong, and he (was). On the backstretch, I had fight him all the way to the three-eighths pole. I finally put my hands down and he seemed to relax.”
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher: “He was a little fresh. Johnny said he was a little keener around, but it went pretty well overall. He did what we were hoping he’d do, and I’ll talk to Team Zayat about the next plan. But coming into this, we were thinking about going to (Royal) Ascot if this went well, and it went well enough to continue to pursue that. I thought it was a good race for a horse that hadn’t run in a while.”