By Jenny Kellner
ELMONT, NY – Odds-on favorite Rushing Fall bounded off to a two-length lead coming out of the gate and was never threatened, going gate-to-wire to win the Grade 1, $700,000 Longines Just a Game on Saturday at Belmont Park, marking trainer Chad Brown’s fourth turf stakes win of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
On Thursday, opening day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, Brown sent out the exacta of Cambier Parc and Newspaperofrecord in the Grade 3, $200,000 Wonder Again and also saddled Significant Form to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental, in which the Brown-trained Stella di Camelot finished third. On Friday, Brown-trained horses finished 1-2 in the $600,000 New York with Homerique holding off stablemate Competitionofideas in the Grade 2 race.
On Belmont Stakes Day, with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano in the irons, Rushing Fall broke sharply from the No. 4 post and quickly took command, leading the field of six fillies and mares through sensible fractions of 23.91 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.21 for the half. With Daddy is a Legend moving up to challenge on the far turn, Rushing Fall promptly found another gear and spurted clear of her five rivals to hit the wire 2 ½ lengths in front of the fast-closing Beau Recall.
“She broke out of the gate but she was able to settle down in the beginning,” said Castellano. “It’s amazing the way she finished. They tried to challenge her, but she’s so good.”
Her winning time was 1:31.67 for the mile over the firm Widener turf course.
“When Daddy is a Legend tackled her on the turn, I was concerned there for a moment because I knew it would be a real battle. I have a lot of respect for that horse,” said Brown, who notched his third straight Just a Game victory. “Thankfully, Rushing Fall showed her best stuff today and was able to fend her off and kick clear. I don’t use the word brilliant too often, but it was a real brilliant performance.”
It was the eighth victory in nine starts for Rushing Fall, who carries the colors of e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, and third straight in a Grade 1 race on the heels of the Jenny Wiley and the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. Her resume also includes the Grade 2 Lake Placid, the Grade 2 Appalachian, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf and the Grade 2 Jessamine.
The only blemish on her record is a narrow second in the Grade 3 Edgewood last May at Churchill Downs.
“She’s just so versatile; the different distances she can run and her running style,” said Brown, who also saddled Environs to a fifth-place finish in the race. “She doesn’t need the lead but she has enough speed she can really hurt you. A horse like this does not come around very often.
“I want to speak to [owner] Bob Edwards but I feel the logical thing to do is get her back to 1 1/8 miles in the Diana [Grade 1, July 13, Saratoga Race Course].”
Rushing Fall returned $3.40 for a $2 win wager and boosted her bankroll to $1,893,000.
A head behind Beau Recall in third was Daddy is a Legend, who was followed under the wire by Bellavais, Environs, and Capla Temptress.