Jean-Luc Samyn is the oldest member of New York’s jockey colony, and all of his experience paid off Saturday afternoon when he guided Godolphin Stable’s Formal Decree to a three-length, gate-to-wire victory over Strike a Deal in the 49th running of the Grade 3, $111,400 Knickerbocker Handicap for three-year-olds and up at nine furlongs on Belmont Park’s inner turf course.
Samyn, who will be 54 on November 6, broke from Post 1 and, with the rail set at 18 feet on the firm course, opened up a measured length on longshot Giant Wrecker and set a pace of .24.93, 48.31 and 1:10.95 Giant Wrecker made one final try, but Samyn and his mount simply rode off to the victory in 1:47.57.
It is not surprising that the 5-year-old Dikat colt has progressed. Samyn has now ridden him four consecutive free times.
“In his previous races, he’s been difficult when he gets in a lot of traffic,” said Christine Andenaes, assistant to winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor of “. He was
kind of left alone, and it worked out well. Jean-Luc (Samyn) knows the horse well and gets along with him. I don’t know what’s next.”
Strike a Deal, who now has four seconds in six starts this year with no victories, necked Buffalo man for the place, while favored Proudinsky was fourth.
Dry Martini, Drum Major, Interpatation and Giant Wrecker trailed, while Operation Red Dawn was scratched.
KNICKERBOCKER HANDICAP QUOTES
Christine Andenaes, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor of Formal Decree (GER) (No. 1): “In his previous races, he’s been difficult when he gets in a lot of traffic. He was kind of left alone, and it worked out well. Jean-Luc (Samyn) knows the horse well and gets along with him. I don’t know what’s next.”
Winning jockey Jean-Luc Samyn: “When I was turning for home, I was extremely happy. I had a lot of horse left. This is his fourth race in this country, and each time he runs, he gets better. (on stealing the race on the lead): “It happens once in a blue moon. I do have a few years of experience.”