David Jacobson and Head of Plains Partners’ Stallwalkin’ Dude scored a determined victory in his first try since finishing a troubled sixth in Dubai’s Group 1 Golden Shaheen, running down a seasoned field for a 1 ¾-length victory in the $ 100,000 Diablo for 4-year-olds and up Sunday at Belmont Park.
Stallwalkin’ Dude broke inward at the start and settled in sixth early as Green Gratto led the seven-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 22.43 seconds while being pressed along by Chief Lion to his outside. The pair continued to duke it out through the turn to set a 45.38-second half-mile as Life in Shambles and Still Krz loomed closely behind. Ridden by Joe Bravo, Stallwalkin’ Dude gained ground as he fanned four-wide into the stretch.
Bravo angled his charge into the two path, maneuvering through a tight opening between Life in Shambles and Green Gratto at the eighth pole to kick clear by 1 ¾ lengths. The winning time was 1:10.16. Favored at 8-5, Stallwalkin’ Dude returned $ 5.30 for a $ 2 win wager.
“I won with him last time [Tale of the Cat, August 12] and he’s one of those horses that needs a little pace,” said Bravo. “It all unfolded right before us nicely today and made my job easy.”
The victory was the 18th overall for Stallwalkin’ Dude, and fourth in 10 starts at Belmont, including a win in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler here last fall. The millionaire gelding added the $ 60,000 winner’s share of the Diablo purse to his lifetime earnings for a total of $ 1,350,852.
Trained by Jacobson, the 7-year-old Florida-bred returned from his first trip overseas this spring following the Golden Shaheen on March 25 at Meydan Racecourse, where he was jostled early and trapped on the inside through much of the race to finish sixth, 5 ½ lengths behind Mind Your Biscuits.
“We’re very happy and very impressed as we usually are with him,” said Jacobson. “Coming back from Dubai, it’s only been six weeks, and everyone’s been whispering in my ear that ‘It’s a little bit too soon, is he okay?’ I had some butterflies in my stomach, but after the race I guess he’s a true warrior.”
Jacobson added that Stallwalkin’ Dude will be pointed towards the Grade 2, $ 250,000 True North during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on Friday, June 9.
“Going from here we’ll consider the obvious, the True North and then Saratoga, but we’ll take it one race at a time and see how he is,” he said.
Noholdingback Bear got up in time for second. Life In Shambles, Green Gratto, Still Krz, Spartiatis, and Chief Lion completed the order of finish.
In his first start since an impressive second-place finish in the Grade 3 Excelsior, Winning Move Stable and Green Saltor Thoroughbreds’ Tu Brutus earned his first victory in North America, wiring the field in the $ 100,000 Flat Out for 4-year-olds and up going 1 3/8 miles.
Sent off as the 4-5 post-time favorite and breaking alertly from post 5 with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, the 5-year-old Chilean-bred moved toward the front from the field of five. Setting fractions of 23.27 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.80 for the half Tu Brutus remained comfortably in front.
Tu Brutus completed a mile in 1:37.22, with Doyouknowsometing coming within a length of the leader at the top of the stretch. Tu Brutus was geared down and extended away from the field to complete the victory by 11 lengths. The final time was 2:14.87.
“This first time I rode him, I wasn’t really used to him and I think we moved a little too early to the rail and he ended up getting caught late,” said Ortiz, Jr. “This time, going in with that experience I knew I could be a little more patient but he went out right away and he did it easy. He came in prepared and he really got out there and went away today. He was impressive.”
Returning $ 3.60 for a $ 2 win wager, the 5-year-old son of Scat Daddy picked up his first win in North America and boosted his career earnings to $ 170,546.
“This is a horse that has no bottom, he just keeps getting deeper and deeper,” said winning trainer Gary Contessa. “He takes a deep breath and starts all over again. You never know competition he’s facing in Chile. But the best thing about this horse is that he’s won stakes running clockwise and counterclockwise. He does it all. He’s just a cool horse to be around.”
“We’re looking at the [Grade 2] Brooklyn on Belmont Stakes Day [June 10] and we’ll close that bridge when we come to it,” added Contessa. “From there we could also look at the [Grade 2] Suburban [July 8].”
Following Doyouknowsomething in second was Royal Posse, Turco Bravo and Scuba completing the order of finish.
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