BROOKLYN HANDICAP | PURSE: $150,000 | GRADE 2 | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | 1 1/2 MILES
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Birdrun, taking a page from the playbook Shackleford is likely to use on Saturday in the Belmont Stakes, led from start to finish going 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park on Friday in the Grade 2, $150,000 Brooklyn Handicap for older horses.
In doing so, Birdrun beat last year's Belmont winner, Drosselmeyer, who finished about three lengths back in second after being on nearly even terms at the top of the stretch. But the result was a dream scenario for trainer Bill Mott, who sent out both Birdrun and Drosselmeyer in the five-horse field. Mott also won the Grade 3 Poker Stakes, which immediately preceded the Brooklyn, with Courageous Cat.
Alma d'Oro finished third and was followed, in order, by Eldaafer and Afleet Again.
Birdrun ($7.30), under Rajiv Maragh, completed 1 1/2 miles on the fast main track in 2:28.24 after getting away with an opening six furlongs in 1:13.88. Birdrun is a son of Birdstone, who won the 2004 Belmont Stakes.
"He broke and got right into his stride," Maragh said. "I just wanted to do what he was comfortable doing. I didn't want to overdo it. He got into his pace and kept going."
Birdrun, 5, owned by Preston Stables, has now won six times in 19 starts, but he has been particularly effective at Belmont Park, where he now has three wins and three seconds in six starts.
The Brooklyn was the first half of the Brooklyn-Belmont double.