William Lawrence and Klaravich Stables’ Bricks and Mortar took on graded stakes company for the first time in Friday’s Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes, and the sophomore son of Giant’s Causeway found success for the fourth consecutive time in his career. Given a perfect ride by Joel Rosario, the Chad Brown trainee angled out in mid-stretch to run down Yoshida in the final sixteenth of a mile, crossing under the wire three-quarters of a length in front. Still undefeated, Bricks and Mortar covered 1 1/16 miles over Saratoga’s firm turf course in 1:39.47.
“I have a lot of respect for this field,” Brown said. “It’s a deep field and this horse keeps improving. For a lightly raced 3-year-old, he’s undefeated, he’s done everything we’ve asked. You can’t for better than that. Yoshida is a top class horse and to kick clear you’re really going to have to run a fast last quarter to catch him.”
Secretary at War broke on top of the field, and was joined early by Big Handsome on the inside. Just behind those two, Yoshida and Bricks and Mortar tracked from third and fourth. Secretary at War moved away to a two-length lead around the first turn, setting early fractions of :23.94 and :48.11 as Big Handsome moved off the rail to the leader’s outside. Bricks and Mortar was tucked in at the rail, and Yoshida was traveling well on his outside.
Approaching the far turn, Big Handsome and Yoshida began to line up on the outside of Secretary of War, Yoshida widest of the trio. Those three would turn for home on even terms, but Secretary at War gave way easily. Bricks and Mortar was still behind horses on the rail, awaiting room under the ever-patient Rosario.
It looked to be a two-horse race in mid-stretch, with Yoshida struggling to get by a determined Big Handsome, but suddenly Rosario angled Bricks and Mortar to the center of the track. The colt responded with a massive turn of foot to easily blow past the leading pair, crossing the wire three-quarters of a length in front. Yoshida was just able to nose out Big Handsome for the place.
“I got a good trip,” Rosario said. “We were all running together for the first three-quarters trying to get position and he’s a very good horse. I was down inside [towards the rail] and had to stay where I was, but I just took my time to take him out. He’s a nice horse and tries very hard. The last race he had, the final quarter-mile was very fast. He tries hard every time so I knew he had the turn-of-foot to get home, I just waited until I could get him out. He’s very honest and as long as he’s comfortable he’ll take it from there. You can put him wherever you want.”
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Jr., Bricks and Mortar was a $ 200,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. He did not debut until February of his sophomore season, but won with a big rally at Gulfstream. The colt resurfaced in an allowance at Belmont in June, winning by three-quarters of a length, and in the Manila Stakes he defeated favored Big Handsome by a neck. Overall, Bricks and Mortar has won all four of his starts and earned over $ 250,000.
“He’s everything you want to see in a 3-year-old, whether it’s a dirt horse or a turf horse,” said Brown. “He’s constantly proving that he has the will to win. With this horse, if you set him down in the clear and give him a target, he gets there. We talked about it in the paddock, Joel [Rosario] and I, and even though he won the Manila Stakes last time, he was far back off a very slow pace and he flew home to get there, which was remarkable, really. Against these horses this time around, we talked about it and if he were that far back, he wasn’t going to get there. So, I thought Joel really did good to get him out of the gate and get a good pocket trip forwardly placed, like we talked about. From there, it’s turf racing. Either he’s going to get through or he’s not, but I knew that if he was able to save that ground and not be too far away, he was good enough.”
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