ELMONT, N.Y. - Dacita spearheaded a sweep of the top three positions in the $500,000 New York Stakes for Chad Brown, rallying from off the pace to edge stablemates Sea Calisi and Guapaza in the Grade 2 turf race at Belmont Park on Friday.
Dacita, the last horse to beat champion mare Tepin, returned to top form to take the 73rd running of the New York under new rider Irad Ortiz Jr., prevailing by three-quarters of a length over odds-on favorite Sea Calisi, who trailed for the first mile and was stymied along the inside with Jose Ortiz in the stretch.
The New York unfolded in deliberate fashion, as second choice Photo Call set measured fractions of 25.05, 50.31 and 1:15.23 seconds under Javier Castellano, who had ridden Dacita in all four of her prior starts in the United States.
Guapaza raced in closest attendance to the pacesetter to the top of the stretch, gained a short lead with a furlong remaining, but could not contain the top two.
Dacita swung out for clear sailing into the lane, and proved best with a sustained late charge.
"She ran really good," said Ortiz, Jr. "Chad brought her ready, and when I asked she was there for me and took off. Thankfully, we got to run our own race and she got a perfect trip."
Sea Calisi wasn't so lucky. Bet to 4-5 favoritism in the field of seven off an impressive victory in the Sheepshead Bay, Sea Calisi was in the midst of a run along the fence when caught behind a tiring Photo Call and forced to alter course, bumping with Trophee in the process. She finished well between horses after recovering, but the loss of momentum cost her dearly.
Dacita, who nipped Tepin in the Ballston Spa in her United States debut last summer, ran 1 ¼ miles in 2:01.46 seconds on a firm inner turf course. She paid $11.80 to win, boosting her career earnings to $692,361 for owners Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds. With Irad Ortiz, Jr.'s brother Jose Ortiz in second aboard Sea Calisi, the Ortiz brothers exacta returned $28.40 and a Chad Brown trifecta paying $81.
"All three horses ran terrific, so that makes the trainer happy," said Brown, who added the New York to his burgeoning collection of graded stakes victories.
"Sea Calisi, unfortunately, didn't get a great trip inside," added the trainer. "I felt like if she could have gotten clear maybe she would have had a better kick than she showed, but that's turf racing, especially in a short field with a moderate pace. I thought she fired, as did Dacita. It was nice to see her get back on track. And Guapaza, with not a clear challenger to the lone speed horse, Photo Call, someone had to go ahead and take the initiative and I'm glad Johnny (Velazquez) did that. I thought Guapaza did a lot of the heavy lifting...she really dug in gamely and was right there in the photo. I thought she ran an outstanding race. All three horses are nice."
Trophee finished fourth after some bumping and traffic in the stretch. She was followed under the wire by Kyllachy Queen, Photo Call and Havana Moon.
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