BOWLING GREEN HANDICAP | PURSE: $150,000 | GRADE 2 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 1 3/8 MILES
Grassy took over from Center Divider in mid-stretch and notched his first win of the year in the Grade 2, $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap on opening day of the Belmont Park fall meet Sept. 10.
A homebred of Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Grassy broke a four-race losing streak with his half-length score under Garrett Gomez. He covered 1 3/8 miles on the good turf course in 2:19.69 for his second graded stakes score.
The 5-year-old son of El Prado is trained by Christophe Clement, who won the Bowling Green for the third time in his career.
Gomez gave Grassy a nice, stalking trip, as they followed pacesetter Sal the Barber, Center Divider, and Kindergarden Kid for most of the way. Sal the Barber and Cornelio Velasquez took the field of seven through fractions of :25.57, :51.65, 1:18.07, and 1:43.45 and when he turned for home was on even terms with Center Divider.
Center Divider, with Javier Castellano aboard, eventually took a brief lead from the longtime leader, but Grassy, who entered the lane three-wide, ran him down approaching the sixteenth-pole and won while being covered up.
Center Divider was a neck in front of Bold Hawk for second. Favored Sanagas was fourth.
“We all just kind of went around there and picked the pace up and after we turned for home, then we started sprinting,” said Gomez, who won the 2007 Bowling Green aboard Sunriver. “Everybody sat chilly, everybody just stayed along where they were at, everybody rode their horse like they were on the best horse, and my horse came home better than anybody.”
Though he was without a win in four starts this year, Grassy had run well in all of them including narrow runner-up finishes in the May 22 Three Coins Up Stakes at Belmont and June 26 Singspiel at Woodbine. Most recently, the gray/roan horse was fourth in the Aug. 21 Sky Classic.
Grassy’s biggest previous victory came in the Red Smith Handicap last November at Aqueduct. This was his fifth win from 15 starts and he upped his career earnings to $415,564. He is out of the Rousillon mare High Savannah.
“I’m very happy with Grassy because Mr. Hancock (of Claiborne) has been very patient and it is wonderful when owners give you that time and it works out,” Clement said. “He was very impressive today and I hope we can go on to better things. The (Oct. 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, gr. I) is a possibility.”
Sent off as the second choice, the winner paid $5.60, $3.30, and $2.50. The $2 exacta (7-6) returned $38.60 and the $2 trifecta (7-6-4) was worth $218.50.
Kindergarden Kid was fifth, followed by Colonialism, and Sal the Barber.
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