Mix mud with speed and you get gold when Bertrando's running in a big race.
On a sloppy track at Santa Anita in January, Bertrando won the $200,000 San Fernando Stakes by nine lengths.
The track came up sloppy again Saturday at Belmont Park, and Bertrando was even better, leading from the start in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes. His 13-length victory added up to a $525,000 payday for owners Eddie Nahem and Marshall Naify. Bertrando earned the $300,000 first-place purse as well as the runner-up bonus of $225,000 in the American Championship Racing Series. The 4-year-old colt's career earnings stand at $2.4 million.
"When the track came up muddy, I knew that it was all over but the crying (by the opposition)," said Gary Stevens, who also rode Bertrando to his first victory in the series, the $1-million Pacific Classic at Del Mar last month.
Despite finishing a distant second, Devil His Due had the biggest payday. He earned $110,000 from the Woodward purse and won the $550,000 bonus for finishing first in the nine-race championship series point standings. Devil His Due, who matched Bertrando's two wins in the series, finished with 38 points for other high finishes. Bertrando wound up with 32 points. Valley Crossing was third in the Woodward and collected a $125,000 bonus for finishing third in the point standings with 30.
Bertrando set the early fractions of :22 4/5, :45 3/5 and 1:09 4/5 before finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.
Bertrando and Devil His Due are both headed for Santa Anita, where the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic will be run on Nov. 6. Bertrando's owners will have to pay a supplementary fee of $360,000--12% of the purse--to make him eligible for the 1 1/4-mile race, but with a horse-of-the-year candidate in their barn, the steep price shouldn't be a deterrent.
Another horse-of-the-year possibility, grass specialist Star Of Cozzene, was also an impressive winner Saturday at Belmont, where five stakes were run for more than $1.2 million in purses. Star Of Cozzene, who thrives on soft going, uncorked a swooping, middle-of-the-track run in the final quarter of a mile to score a five-length win over the French invader, Serrant, in the $400,000 Man o' War Stakes. By winning $240,000, Star Of Cozzene went over the $2-million earnings mark. It would cost Star Of Cozzene's owners that $240,000 to supplement him into the $2-million Breeders' Cup Turf, but their position is unclear because it's possible that the 5-year-old horse might be sold before Nov. 6.
Bertrando, coupled in the betting with Missionary Ridge, the fourth-place finisher in the Woodward, and Star Of Cozzene were heavy favorites. Bertrando paid $3.80 at Belmont and returned only $3.20 at Fairplex Park, where there was betting on the telecast. Star Of Cozzene's $2 mutuel at Belmont was $3.60.
Dehere, the odds-on favorite in the $100,000 Futurity at Belmont, didn't care for the slop and made a late run through the stretch to finish a half-length behind Holy Bull in a major upset. Named after Terry Dehere, a Clipper rookie, the 2-year-old had been undefeated in four starts, including a sweep of the three stakes for 2-year-old males at Saratoga.
"I'm not disappointed," said Reynaldo Nobles, who trains Dehere. "When you're in racing, you know a horse has to get beat eventually. I'd rather it happen now than in the Champagne."
Nobles plans to use the Champagne, at Belmont on Oct. 16, as Dehere's final prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.
Holy Bull, who paid $8.20 to win, also went into the Futurity undefeated, but neither of his two starts had come in a stakes race. The winner is trained by Jimmy Croll and was ridden by Mike Smith.
"I thought at the eighth pole that we had a chance to win," said Chris McCarron, who rode Dehere. "But my horse never did level off."
In the $100,000 Matron, undefeated Strategic Maneuver was a 12-length winner over Astas Foxy Lady. Strategic Manuever, winner of four consecutive starts, ran seven furlongs in 1:23 4/5, three-fifths of a second slower than Holy Bull's time, and will be a worthy rival in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies for Sardula, the best young filly on the West Coast after her strong victory in the Del Mar Debutante.
In the other six-figure stake at Belmont, Fly So Free was a half-length winner over Demaloot Demashoot in the $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap.
Horse Racing Notes
Holy Bull wasn't nominated for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and isn't expected to be supplemented at a cost of $120,000. . . . Lucky Forever, who was 40-1 when he won an allowance at Del Mar on Sept. 6, paid $24.20 after beating Cardmania by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday in the Budweiser Breeders' Cup Handicap at Bay Meadows.
Trainer Mack Miller will be trying to win two major stakes today, running the 8-5 favorite, Sea Hero, in the Molson Export Million at Woodbine and trying to knock off Paseana and Turnback The Alarm with You'd Be Surprised in the $200,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park. . . . Sea Hero is shortening up for the 1 1/8-mile Molson, his two victories this year coming in the Kentucky Derby and the Travers, both at 1 1/4 miles. He'll be treated with Lasix, the bleeders' medication, which he received for the Derby but was unable to use in his New York races. . . . Peteski, the Canadian Triple Crown winner, captured the Queens Plate by six lengths the last time he ran on dirt at Woodbine and will be the horse the others have to catch. On Thursday, Peteski worked five furlongs in :59 2/5, with his exercise rider having a hard time pulling the colt up. . . . Among the other starters are Colonial Affair, the Belmont Stakes winner who was third in the Jim Dandy and fourth behind Sea Hero in the Travers, and Kissin Kris, second in the Belmont and Travers and winner of the Haskell at Monmouth Park. . . . Cheery Knight, Peteski's stablemate, and Truth Of It All round out the six-horse field.
Paseana, who hasn't run since losing to Re Toss by 1 1/4 lengths in the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 18, carries 125 pounds today, spotting the opposition between two and 11 pounds. Turnback The Alarm, at 123 pounds, has won three in a row, all at Belmont. You'd Be Surprised, who'll carry 118 pounds, has won two in a row. . . . The other starters will be Shared Interest and Dispute, the only 3-year-old in the field. . . . Fairplex Park will take betting on the Molson. . . . In the Fairplex feature, the E.B. Johnston Stakes, Southern Truce bids for a 17th victory in her 36th start. The 5-year-old mare is on a six-race losing streak. Bobby Frankel, who saddled Bertrando in the Woodward, is running a new arrival, Senate Appointee, undefeated in six starts this year.