Point of Entry finds winner's circle

MAN O'WAR STAKES | PURSE: $600,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 1 3/8 MILES (TURF)

It looks like Point of Entry has this winning thing figured out.

The Phipps Stable runner built a three-race victory streak while taking his first Grade 1 in the $600,000 Man o' War Stakes July 14 at Belmont Park, ridden confidently by jockey Jose Lezcano in his first start since winning the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland April 27.

The 4-year-old son of Dynaformer drew off to a solid 3 1/2-length score while Treasure Beach, the 4-5 favorite, failed to hit the board.

"I think he's learning," remarked Hall of fame trainer Shug McGaughey. "I told Lezcano, 'Just be careful he's not too sharp off when you come off the layoff.' I could tell in the paddock he was ready."

Point of Entry rated kindly in second behind a tepid pace set by 17-1 shot Center Divider. The frontrunner went the quarter in :26.10 and the half in :52.05 under Rosie Napravnik, then handled three-quarters in a deliberate 1:16.68.

"I thought the horse inside of me [Center Divider] would be going, but he wasn't going fast, so after the break I let my horse settle right there," Lezcano said. "He wasn't pulling or anything. He did everything right."

Hitting the turn after a mile in 1:40.02, Center Divider gave Point of Entry a brief fight for the lead, but Lezcano went to work from the two path and wore down the leader through 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.41. Point of Entry put that one away mid-stretch before kicking clear in a final time of 2:13.87.

"I thought Jose rode him great," McGaughey said. "When Center Divider broke on the lead, Point of Entry laid right there with him. He said he just relaxed and galloped along. When someone kind of came up there he just sort of eased into the bridle and Jose kept him in the clear. I thought it worked out really well."

Treasure Beach, the European invader from the barn of Aiden O'Brien, was far back in the field in the early going and never fired for jockey Jamie Spencer. He finished fifth after being swung wide on the turn.

"He was moving fine, he just didn't do anything," Spencer said. "[The pace] was steady, but he was a bit rank early, so I had to get him back."

Sent off at odds of 5-2, Point of Entry paid $7.90, $4.30, and $3, while Center Divider brought $9.70 and $5.10 and Tahoe Lake returned $5.40. Newsdad, Treasure Beach, Hudson Steele, and Game Ball completed the order of finish. Philly Ace scratched.

A Kentucky homebred out of the Seeking the Gold mare Matlacha Pass, Point of Entry improved his career record to 5-2-1 from 12 starts with earnings of $574,490.