Marc Keller’s Bribon made a sweeping move on the far turn that carried him to a one-length victory Wednesday in the 81st running of the Grade 3, $110,000 Westchester for three-year-olds and up. The one-mile race was the feature of Opening Day of Belmont Park’s 64-day Springs/Summer Meet.
Trained by Robert Ribaudo, the 6-year-old Mark of Esteem gelding had come close to being a graded stakes winner before, including his three-quarter-length loss behind Harlem Rocker and Tale of Ekati at Aqueduct last fall in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile. Tale of Ekati won that race on the disqualification of Harlem Rocker, and it overshadowed a strong effort by Bribon.
Suddenly, as the field exited the far turn, Bribon let loose with his run that carried him to the lead. Makin is first start since March 14, Bribon seemed to get distracted toward the end of the race, but still had enough left to outlast 11-1 Discreet Treasure and stop the timer at 1:35.38.
“It is great to be back at Belmont Park!,” said Garcia, whose mount returned $7.70 as the post-time favorite of 5,105 fans. “My trip today was great. He broke good and settled down well. Around the quarter pole, I asked him to run but when he got to the lead, he started playing around a little bit. I got to work on him, and by the last sixteenth I knew he had won it.”
Trainer Robert Ribaudo said he will now point Bribon to the Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Metropolitan Handicap for three-year-olds and up here on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.
“You know, we were doing really good coming into this race,” Ribaudo said. “I was little concerned that he moved too soon today, though. He was taking Alan (Garcia) really aggressively into those fast fractions, but everything turned out all right. As long as he comes out of this all right, our goal is the Met Mile but he’s got to come out of it all right.”
Mor Chances, who is entered with stablemate Formal King for the main-track only in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000-added Fort Marcy at a mile and a sixteenth on the Widener Turf Course, was third. Trailing were Wicked B. Havior, Spin Master, Tale of Kati, Formidable and Per Incant.
Cave’s Valley and Wishful Tomcat, who won Sunday’s Kings Point at Aqueduct, were scratched.