Brave and Louis Saez win Brooklyn
Repole Stable’s Fearless made its New York debut with one win Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, coming off pace under Louis Saez to capture the historic $400,000 Brooklyn Stakes, the mile-and-a-half race that first ran in Gravesend racetrack in 1887.
Now a second-tier event, Brooklyn winners list reads like Who’s Who of the turf, from Gray Lag and Exterminator in the 1920s to Discovery and Seabiscuit in the 1930s, Whirlaway, Stymie, Gallorette and Assault in the 1940s, Tom Fool in the 1950s , Kelso, Backpasser, Damascus and Nodobel in the 1960s, and Riva Ridge and three-time winner Forego in the 1970s. When speed replaced endurance like the apple of a Thoroughbred breeder’s eyes starting in the ’80s, Brooklyn slipped into prominence but remains one of the most important marathons in North America. I found a home on the bottom card of the G1 Belmont Stakes, which runs the same 12 furlongs as the Triple Crown final stop.
In this year’s race, Fearless—a 6-year-old neutered by Ghostzapper from Street Cry mare, and why not—covered the tough distance on a fast track in 2:30.45, winning by 2 3/4 length and paying $9.30. to win. Warrant finished second by a narrow margin, 7-5 ahead of favorite Lone Rock, who won the 2021 Brooklyn race by 11 1/4. Portos finished fourth, finishing first with fifth in the field of seven.
Fearless, Portos and First Constitution were all coached by Todd Pletcher, who was winning the Brooklyn race for the fifth time. Rebull Staples won the Brooklyn Grand Prix for the second time after Bletcher-trained coach Angie won in 2015.
Fearless began his career racing for the WinStar Farm and China Horse Club partnership after buying it for a year for $725,000. Trained by Bleacher, he won 4 of 9 starts including the G2 Gulfstream Park Mile. Repole Stables bought the horse from Fasig-Tipton’s July Horses of Racing Age Sale for $205,000 in 2021, and he never finished worse than second place in seven subsequent starts, including wins at G3 Harlan’s Holiday and G3 Ghostzapper, both at Gulfstream Park .
Despite having been in the New York fold of Bleacher’s since his six-furlong winning debut in December 2019, Fearless has never been out in the Empire State, having started in Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds, Oaklon and Pimlico. He was knocked out by a runner-up performance on April 23 at the G2 Oaklawn Handicap in Arkansas. Brooklyn also had the longest run, and his previous races were only 1 3/16 miles when he finished third in the G3 Pimlico Special in 2021.
“We expected him to handle the distance,” Bleacher said. “Of course, you never know until you try it, but it always gives us that impression that he’s going to keep getting rid of it.
“The track seemed to be preferred for indoor speed, but they only ran three dirt races around one turn, so you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. We drew 7th with Fearless and wanted to be in good tactical shape and sacrifice some ground to do that.”
Saez was brave on goal while capturing a wide three across Brooklyn while far from the pace set by First Constitution and jockey Jose Lescano. Lone Rock and Ramon Vasquez raced between these two as the first constitution set the fractions: 24.94,:50.06, 1:15.15 and 1:39.41 for the opening mile.
Those same three horses raced as a team that circled the far turn by 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.29. Turning to the extension while still outside, he fearlessly stepped forward, increasing his fringe in the final longlong.
“That was the plan to try and sit third behind the pace and he ran his race and got the job done,” Saez said. “He’d better go longer. We always thought he would like more distance. Today was perfect and he kept running.”
“A horse can go six furlongs to a mile and a half,” said owner Mike Ripoll. “He’s a castrated, so long as he’s healthy he’ll be around for some time. He’s a fun horse to own.”
“What we do is we look at all of our horses, we put them in place, and whatever spots are left, we throw fearlessly in there and it fits competitively,” Ripoll added.
“I’ve owned a Caixa Eletronica for years, and it’s one of my favourites. He was the son of the most obscure stallion. He went six furlongs, traveled longer distances, did it all. This horse reminds me so much of this horse.”
Bleacher said the G2 Suburban located 1 1/4 miles in Belmont Park on July 9 “could be on” for the next start of Fearless.