By Jon Forbes
ELMONT, N.Y. – A pair of homebreds swept Saturday’s turf stakes at Belmont Park, with Phipps Stable’s Boisterous repeating in the Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker and the Phillips Racing Partnership’s La Cloche posting a breakthrough win in the Grade 3, $150,000 Athenia for fillies and mares.
“He broke very good and I got the position I wanted. In the middle of the turn when everybody moved, I still had a hold,” said Lezcano. “I didn’t get shuffled back; I let them go. I didn’t want to move yet. When I swung out, he gave me the kick I expected him to give me. He finished very good.”
Boisterous, the even money favorite, paid $4.10 for a $2 win wager and completed 1 1/8 miles over “good” turf in 1:50.26.
Last year at Belmont, Boisterous won the Three Coins Up overnight stakes and was third in the Grade 1 Man o’ War prior to his Knickerbocker victory in the fall. The son of Distorted Humor concluded his 2011 season, in which he was 4-0-1 in seven starts, with a win in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Now a 5-year-old, Boisterous won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in May at Belmont in his second start of 2012 and entered this year’s renewal of the Knickerbocker off a third in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap in June at Belmont, a second in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap in July, and a ninth in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 18.
“He runs good over this course. He’s been third in two Grade 1s here, and this is four races he’s won over this course,” said Buzz Tenney, assistant to winning Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “[Jose Lezcano] got him in a good position early in the race, and I think that’s the key with him. I think he likes to get in position early, be patient, and find a hole to finish through.”
Boisterous is 8-1-2 in 20 total starts. The $90,000 winner’s share of the Knickerbocker purse lifted his earnings to $646,390.
Tune Me In was third, followed home by Stormy Lord, Bombaguia, Sky Blazer, and Barocci. Freud’s Honour was scratched.
In the Athenia, La Cloche picked up her second career stakes win and first in a graded event with a 1 ¼-length triumph.
Hailing from a top turf family, the Phillips Racing Partnership representative bided her time in sixth, patiently waited under Junior Alvarado to make her move, was taken outside nearing the run into the stretch, and rallied between horses to prevail over long shot Embarr.
“I just was waiting for my chance to move outside because she never runs one step on the inside,” said Alvarado. “That was pretty much what I was trying to work out first. She was able to swing outside by the quarter pole, and after that I won’t say it was really easy, but she took off. She really helped me and gave me a nice kick at the end.”
Off at 9-2, La Cloche paid $11 and completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.15.
La Cloche is by Ghostzapper and out of Memories of Silver, who won the 1996 Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and the 1997 Grade 1 Beverly D. for the Phillips family and Toner. Memories of Silver is also the dam of Winter Memories, who took the 2011 Grade 1 Garden City and this year’s Grade 1 Diana for the same connections.
“John [Phillips] will be thrilled about [the graded stakes win],” said Toner. “That’s all we’ve heard, ‘Gotta get a graded stakes, gotta get a graded stakes, gotta get a graded stakes!’ Thank God, maybe she can get out of her sister’s shadow for a change. We’re really happy for her.”
La Cloche, a 5-year-old, won Belmont’s Voodoo Dancer overnight stakes in July and entered Saturday’s race off a fifth in the restricted De La Rose in August at Saratoga Race Course and a sixth in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel on September 15 at Belmont. Overall, she is 5-3-0 in 18 starts and has amassed $298,833.
Laughing was third, with favored Ruthenia rounding out the superfecta. Martita Sangrita, Law of The Range, Thundering Emilia, and The Underling completed the order of finish