SANDS POINT S. | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16-MILES (TURF)
The old adage "pace makes the race" sums up how Monday's Grade 2, $200,000 Sands Point unfolded at Belmont Park, where Patricia Generazio's homebred Discreet Marq got away with pedestrian splits to make a winning debut for Christophe Clement. In that respect, the gray was markedly unlike Generazio's old star Presious Passion, who enjoyed running his rivals off their feet from pillar to post.
Unraced since being caught late in the January 27 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream Park, Discreet Marq was the lone front runner on paper, and new rider Jose Lezcano expertly stuck to the script aboard the 5-2 second choice.
"That was the plan, not too much to say," Lezcano recapped. "She broke good and was in the front. I waited for the final three-sixteenths to make a run, and she pulled out a win."
Discreet Marq strolled through an opening quarter in :25 2/5 on the firm inner turf. Kitten's Queen advanced to apply a modicum of pressure down the backstretch, but Discreet Marq was still well within herself through easy fractions of :49 3/5 and 1:13 2/5.
Watsdachances, the 2-1 favorite, ranged up on the outside turning for home, while her stablemate from the Chad Brown barn, Wave Theory, was glued to the inside. Lagging too far behind were Barclay Tagg's fillies, Caroline Thomas and Unbelievable Dream, who had virtually no chance of making up ground on the leaders.
Discreet Marq turned on the afterburners for the stretch drive, sprinting clear of her pursuers and reaching the mile mark in 1:36 2/5. Wave Theory raced a bit erratically as she switched off the fence and came around to offer her rally. Although Wave Theory finished sharply, and managed to reduce the winning margin to three-quarters of a length at the wire, Discreet Marq safely held her at bay by zipping a final sixteenth in less than :6.
After negotiating 1 1/16 grassy miles in 1:42 2/5, Discreet Marq returned $7.80, $4.90 and $2.90 for her first graded stakes victory.
"I'm a very lucky man," Clement said. "She came to me at Payson Park 2 1/2 months ago. She's trained very well from day one. It's a bit ambitious to be here, but she was the only speed of the race and (Generazio) was really happy to take the shot. It worked out."
Wave Theory drew 1 1/4 lengths clear of a one-paced Watsdachances. Kitten's Queen reported home another 1 1/2 lengths back in fourth, trailed by Caroline Thomas and Unbelievable Dream. Main-track-only Fusaichiswonderful stayed in the barn.
Discreet Marq improved her resume to 8-3-1-2, $245,900. The daughter of Discreet Cat was well beaten in her debut in the Saratoga slop last August. When initial trainer Jim Ryerson transferred her to turf next out at the Spa, she slammed New York-breds in wire-to-wire fashion, and has remained on the grass ever since. Discreet Marq performed creditably in her first two stakes tries, checking in third in the October 5 Voodoo Dancer at Belmont and fourth in the October 27 Selima at Laurel.
Her stakes breakthrough came when she reverted to front-running tactics in the November 22 Lie Low at Aqueduct. Transferred to Jane Cibelli thereafter, Discreet Marq was again the pacesetter in her two appearances at Gulfstream Park. She tired to third behind Tuttipaesi and Wave Theory in the January 1 Ginger Brew, and nearly lifted the Sweetest Chant, only to be nailed by Premier Steps by a neck.
"She's a nice horse -- she was a nice horse last year," Clement said. "She's a top-class filly, I'm sure of it. We have many races on the turf coming along, so it's going to be fun. Let's enjoy it for today, and go from there."
Bred in the Empire State, Discreet Marq is out of Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner To Marquet. The Marquetry mare is also responsible for the stakes-placed pair of Marquet Cat and Marquet Madness. The only other graded performer under Discreet Marq's first four dams is multiple Grade 3 hero Unreal Turn.