Robert Baker and William Mack’s Smooth Daddy rallied in deep stretch and defeated Time Test by a nose in a head-bobbing finish to win the 41st edition of the Grade 3, $ 150,000 Fort Marcy, concluding the stakes action at Belmont Park.
Smooth Daddy stalked Farz’s early pace of a quarter-mile in 25.88 seconds. Jockey Eric Cancel, picking up his first career graded stakes win in the U.S., brought Smooth Daddy to the front, going a half mile in 51.18.
Time Test gained the lead in the stretch, with Smooth Daddy saving ground angling near the rail. The 6-year-old Tom Albertrani trainee needed every foot of the 1 1/8 mile inner turf course, hitting the wire in 1:52.64 on a yielding track for his first graded stakes win.
“Once I got to the three-eighths, their instructions were to let him go because he doesn’t like to be around other horses too much when it’s time to run,” Cancel said. “When I got to the eighth pole, I noticed that I still had some horse, so I went to my second option, a left-handed whip, and he reacted to it.
“I could feel the horse was coming back and he was giving me all he’s got,” he added. “I wasn’t surprised but I’m really happy we ended up winning. I can’t complain, he did it well.”
Smooth Daddy, who twice was a runner-up finisher in graded stakes, including last year’s Fort Marcy, won for just the second time since 2014. The 17-1 longshot paid $ 37.20 on a $ 2 win bet, improving his career earnings to $ 462,301.
“He was second in this race last year and he’s always game,” Albertrani said. “Once he gets in front he really digs in and did it again today. Eric said he didn’t feel like the horse was giving up when he came to him and luckily he got the right bob. Going forward we’ll see what happens after today. Sometimes he takes a little time between his races so we’ll just let the dust settle and see how he’s doing the next couple of weeks or so.”
The English-bred Time Test nearly gave Brown a clean sweep of the three graded stakes on the day, after the trainer won the Sheepshead Bay and Westchester. The ultra-consistent 5-year-old, whose lone previous start in the country was a 10th-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, was second to improve to 6-3-1 in 12 career starts.
Messi, Farz and Jay Gatsby completed the order of finish. Eirigh, Go Around and Highland Sky were scratched.
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