PILGRIM STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 2-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16 MILES (INNER TURF)
Martin Schwartz and Dell Ridge Farm's Noble Tune came flying from the back of the pack to capture the Grade 3, $150,000 Pilgrim at Belmont on Monday. This victory in his first graded race earns him a ticket to California as this was a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
"It was much like his debut. I thought he was very professional; he did some things you see experienced horses do," winning trainer Chad Brown said. "It's always encouraging to see a horse with this much class who has the sense to maneuver around, slip inside, slip outside, accelerate, and switch off early in the race. If the horse comes out of the race OK, we'll be going on to the Breeders' Cup."
The two-year-old colt settled near the back of the pack before being unleashed by rider Ramon Dominguez around the far turn where he struck the front at the top of the stretch. After catching the pacesetter Special Skills, who posted fractions of :25 4/5, :51 2/5 and 1:16 3/5, Noble Tune drew out comfortably in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
"At the three-eighths pole I was towards the outside," Dominguez said. "I wanted to keep my options open to have first run at them if I could. Having said that, they were spreading out enough where to continue my run on the outside I was going to really have to go wide throughout the whole turn.
"So, I chose to go on the inside and sort of cut the corner. I just had to push the button towards the middle of the turn because the other horse for Chad Brown, Saint Vigeur, was on the outside and gaining enough ground where I could have been stuck. As soon as I asked him he just took off and cut the corner beautifully and got into the clear. I was very impressed by that move."
The Kentucky-bred covered the 1 1/16 miles on the yielding inner turf in 1:47 4/5. He went off as the 6-5 favorite and returned $4.60, $3.10 and $2.40 to his backers.
Coming across the wire for second was Notacatbutallama and another 2 3/4 lengths back in third was Special Skills. Quinzieme Monarque, Saint Vigeur, Cerro and West Hill Giant rounded out the order of finish. Bernie the Jet, James Jingle and Read the Proposal were all scratched.
Now perfect from two career starts, Noble Tune has earned $141,000. He broke his maiden last time out in his debut over the turf at Saratoga.
Bred by co-owner Dell Ridge Farm, the son of Unbridled's Song RNA'd for $300,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Noble Tune is the first registered foal from the stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Serena's Cat. She is herself a half-sister to multiple Group 3 winner Vocalised.
Noble Tune's second dam is multiple stakes heroine Serena's Tune, a daughter of Hall of Famer and blue hen broodmare Serena's Song, who has produced such notable runners as Group 1 queen Sophisticat, Grade 2 winners Grand Reward and Harlington, and Grade 3 victor Schramsberg.
This is also the family of Grade 2 winner Doubles Partner, who was third in the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile earlier this season, as well as current Group 3 Supreme Stakes scorer Producer, most recently runner-up in a September 21 listed race at Newbury.