BROOKLYN HANDICAP | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 ½ MILES
He raced practically in the Bronx in the early going, but Dona Pancha's Breeders' Cup Marathon victor Calidoscopio caught up with seven opponents when it mattered to take the $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap June 7 on a sloppy track at rainy Belmont Park.
Spotting the field 22 lengths after a half-mile under jockey Aaron Gryder as 7-2 shot Percussion led through opening fractions of :24.16 and :48.54, the 10-year-old iron horse remained at the back of the pack by daylight before unleashing his giant run rounding the far turn of the 1 ½-mile event. The Argentina-bred bay horse is the first 10-year-old in history to win a graded stakes race on dirt.
"He wasn't even in the race and before you know it, he started gobbling up ground," trainer Mike Puype said. "He absolutely just exploded when it was time to do his thing. I couldn't be happier. Belmont is such a long track. You have so much running to do here. Aaron hit him left-handed and got him in the sweet part of the track. He got them at the right time."
Percussion skipped away in the slop through three-quarters in 1:12.85 and a mile in 1:37.84 headed up the backside, while 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice tracked along in second. They went 1 ¼ miles in 2:04.30 and Gryder began to guide Calidoscopio through a steady advance toward the lead, closing the gap to come within range of the other contenders off the final turn.
Lightly regarded after his lone start of 2013 resulted in a fifth-place finish in the March 23 Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita Park, Calidoscopio was sent off at odds of 7-1.
"That's the way I rode him in the Breeders' Cup and it works, so I have a lot of confidence in him making up that kind of ground," Gryder said. "You never know until you try it, but the last time we laid a little bit closer and he didn't have that kind of kick. We went back to what worked."
Sixth at the quarter pole, Calidoscopio dug in down the center of the track and swept past the tiring runners, but still had a lot to do to get to Percussion. He did so in deep stretch, edging away to win by one length in a final time of 2:31.64.
"He gallops pretty much for the first mile, mile and an eighth, and then from that point on, we pick it up and he just continues to grow in his stride," Gryder said. "I felt good at the three-eighths pole at the eighth pole, I said 'I think I can get there,' and at the sixteenth pole, I said, 'I'm going to run them down.' He's such a character. He's been racing for eight years and he's seen it all."
The Brooklyn was California-based Gryder's first win at Belmont since Oct. 9, 2005, when he took the Gallant Bloom Handicap aboard Umpateedle.
The winner returned $17, $7.50, and $4.70 while Percussion paid $4.90 and $3.60. Fast Falcon, favored at 3-1, finished third and paid $3.30 to show. Keep Me Informed, Ruler On Ice, Flashy Sunrise, Birdrun, and Quick Casablanca completed the order of finish.
Calidoscopio was bred by Haras La Quebrada and has now won two of his three U.S. starts.
In Argentina, Calidoscopio won eight stakes, including the 2009 Republica Argentina via disqualification. He took the Breeders' Cup Marathon last November in his North American debut for trainer Guillermo Frankel. He was then moved to Puype, who gave him time off until the March 23 Tokyo City.
The long-striding bay has made 42 starts, with an 11-5-8 record and earnings of $975,154.