ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown saddled the top-two finishers in a graded turf stakes for the second time in as many days, with even-money favorite Homerique outkicking stablemate Competitionofideas by a neck to win the 76th running of the Grade 2, $600,000 New York for older fillies and mares on Friday at Belmont Park.
A Brown trainee won for the fourth time through the first seven stakes of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival – which began Thursday – with Peter Brant’s Homerique staying midpack as Lady Montdore led the eight-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 25.24 seconds and Giant Zinger taking over the mantle with the half-mile in 50.45 on the firm inner turf.
Homerique, who bested Competitonofideas by a half-length in her winning North American debut in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 11 at Belmont, set herself up to duplicate the feat when jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. urged her forward entering the final turn.
In the stretch, Homerqiue overtook Giant Zinger, positioned near the rail, from the outside. Competitionofideas, ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, surged from Homerique’s outside in the final furlong, but Homerqiue fended off the late charge, completing 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.60.
“The slow pace was a concern, but fortunately someone [Giant Zinger] moved early and the pace picked up a bit,” Brown said. “Much like yesterday, it opened up and she was able to get through.
“Homerique saved more ground on the turn and had a shorter distance to the wire, but then again, she had a good amount of energy in reserve,” he added. “Both horses ran well.”
The 4-year-old Exchange Rate filly and Competitionofideas gave Brown another exacta finish, matching Cambier Parc and Newspaperofrecord’s 1-2 finish in Thursday’s Grade 3 Wonder Again.
Homerique returned $4 on a $2 win wager, nearly doubling her career earnings to $722,950.
“I had a perfect trip from the outside post,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “Even though we don’t really like that post we worked it out good. I wasn’t so happy with the position I had when we went to the backside, so I made the decision to take a little hold, and drop in, and then get into the pack. She appreciated that. Then she came out of the pack more than in the clear. The fractions were slow, but she handled everything pretty good. She’s a very nice horse, a real professional.”
Klaravich Stables’ Competitonofideas has finished on the board in each of her eight starts since a fourth-place debut in May 2018, finishing 3 1/4 lengths clear of Semper Sententiae for second. The 4-year-old Speightstown filly, who ended her 2018 campaign with a win in the Grade 1 American Oaks, is 2-3-0 in six starts at Belmont.
“Competitionofideas really ran a great race from the back,” Brown said. “She was completely out of position early, which is not uncharacteristic for her, given her lack of early speed. She came around horses and did the best she could to come up short to a really good horse. They’re both nice horses. Unfortunately, one of them had to be the loser after running so well, but we gave them the opportunity to both run well and they both did.”
Brown said both horses could possiblly run in the Grade 1 Diana on July 13 at Saratoga Race Course or the Grade 1 Beverly D. on August 10 at Arlington Park.
“She missed the break from out of the gate. From there, I had to use my own judgement, but I think it could have cost me the race. We were too far back,” said Castellano, who is 2-2-1 in six career starts aboard Competitionofideas. “I wish we could’ve been closer to the pace. Either way, I got beat by a good horse. We were second-best today.”
Rounding out the field were Holy Helena, Vexatious, Matty’s Magnum, Giant Zinger and Lady Montdore.
The Belmont Stakes Facing Festival will continue with a loaded Belmont Stakes Day slate on Saturday featuring eight Grade 1 races on a 13-race card, highlighted by the 151st running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. First post time is 11:35 a.m. Eastern.