December 5, 2021

Following Sea wires Vosburgh foes; Bubble Rock gets up in Matron

Following Sea wins the Vosburgh Stakes (Photo by Joe Labozzetta/Coglianese Photos)

An uncontested lead, and some pre-race antics from the favorite, combined to aid Following Sea in posting a wire-to-wire victory in the $232,500 Vosburgh S. (G2), a Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) qualifier, at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, who had rode the winner of another Breeders’ Cup Sprint prep Friday, the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland, the three-year-old Following Sea broke on top and was not seriously challenged for the lead by either favorite Firenze Fire, who broke through the gate before the start, or by close second choice Baby Yoda.

Leading by a length through splits of :22.59 and :45.24, Following Sea opened up on his older rivals through the stretch to score by 4 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:09.20 for six furlongs on a fast track.

A homebred racing for Spendthrift Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, Following Sea paid $7 as the third choice in a field of four.

“Todd just told me to ride him the way it came up,” Rosario said. “He broke sharp and I asked him a little bit to get a position. If somebody else goes, I could sit second but I decided to go to the lead because I was there. He ran really well.”

Firenze Fire, who started at 1.15-1, finished second by 2 1/2 lengths over Baby Yoda. Good Effort trailed throughout.

“(Following Sea), we gave him six pounds,” said trainer Kelly Breen of Firenze Fire, who won the 2020 Vosburgh. “I think we move forward and go towards the Breeders’ Cup.

“It’s going to be a hot pace. Whether it’s Jackie’s Warrior or this horse (Following Sea), no one is going to have an easy lead in a slow pace. It’s going to be a heated event.”

The Vosburgh was the first stakes win for Following Sea, who was elevated to second in the nine-furlong Haskell (G1) in his stakes debut in July, and was most recently a distant third behind Jackie’s Warrior and Life Is Good in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga. He preceded those starts with two wins in three tries against overnight company. His record now stands at 6-3-1-2, $513,020.

Bred in Kentucky, Following Sea is by sprint champion Runhappy and out of the stakes-winning Quick Flip, by Speightstown.

Matron S. (G3)

Bubble Rock made it two wins from three starts when getting up late to win the $150,000 Matron S. (G3) by a half-length as a 3-2 favorite in a field of nine two-year-old fillies.

No more than two lengths off the lead, Bubble Rock made gradual progress on long-time leader Mystic Eyes and edged past that rival in the final yards. Gal in a Rush rallied late to split the above pair, finishing a half-length in front of Mystic Eyes for the place.

The order of finish was rounded out by Makin My Move, The Club, Lady Danae, Dufresne, High Arabian, and Mainstay.

A homebred racing for John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable, the Brad Cox-trained Bubble Rock returned $5 after completing six furlongs on firm ground in 1:08.01.

This stakes debut win followed a 3 1/4-length maiden score at Saratoga for Bubble Rock, who was two lengths second to Lady Danae in her Aug. 13 debut at Saratoga. Both races were over 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon turf. Bubble Roc has now earned $157,500.

Bred in Kentucky, Bubble Rock is by More Than Ready and out of Reef Point, by Giant’s Causeway.