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Creator Takes Belmont in the Shadow of the Wire

11th at BEL, $1,500,000GI Belmont S. (1 1/2m)Winner: Creator, c, 3 by Tapit

Creator (left) just up in Belmont 148 | Adam Coglianese

By Alan Carasso

Just hours prior to Wednesday’s draw for the 148th GI Belmont S., celebrity chef Bobby Flay acquired a minority interest in WinStar Farm’s GI Arkansas Derby hero Creator, hoping to enjoy some “thrilling moments” with the son of leading sire Tapit out of two-time Peruvian champion Morena (Per) (Privately Held). Suffice to say that it was mission accomplished for Flay and his WinStar partners Saturday afternoon, as Irad Ortiz, Jr. shoved the gray colt across the line to best a hard-luck Destin (Giant’s Causeway) by a nose to complete a memorable afternoon for Tapit, who also supplied the third-placed Lani as well as the ultra-impressive GI Metropolitan H. winner Frosted.

“The truth was that I had planned to bring about 15 to 20 people to the Belmont Stakes, which I do every year, and I had a horse named America (A.P. Indy), a filly, who was going to run in the [GI] Ogden Phipps [S.], but I retired her just last month. So I really had nothing to run,” Flay said in the post-race news conference. “So I wanted to make sure my guests had a very enjoyable experience. I wanted to purchase a horse to run, not necessarily in the Belmont S.–and there were a couple of other horses that we were looking at. Having a chance to be involved with a horse like that, with a farm like that, and the people that are involved in it, just it was a no brainer for me.”

Saturday, Belmont Park
BELMONT S.-GI, $1,500,000, BEL, 6-11, 3yo, 1 1/2m, 2:28.51, ft.
1–CREATOR, 126, c, 3, by Tapit
1st Dam: Morena (Per) (Ch. 2yo Filly, Ch. Older Mare,
MGSW & G1SP-Per, GISP-US, $270,699) by Privately Held
2nd Dam: Charytin (Per), by Summing
3rd Dam: Crownit (Fr), by King of Macedon (Ire)
($440,000 Ylg ’14 KEESEP). O-WinStar Farm LLC & Bobby Flay;
B-Mt. Brilliant Broodmares I LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen;
J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $800,000. Lifetime Record: 10-3-4-1,
$1,568,320. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Werk Nick Rating: A.2–Destin, 126, c, 3, Giant’s Causeway–Dream of Summer, by
Siberian Summer. ($400,000 Ylg ’14 KEESEP). O-Twin Creeks
Racing Stables, LLC & Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners; B-James
C. Weigel & Taylor Made Stallions Inc. (KY); T-Todd A.
Pletcher. $280,000.3–Lani, 126, c, 3, Tapit–Heavenly Romance (Jpn), by Sunday
Silence. O-Koji Maeda; B-North Hills Co. Limited (KY); T-Mikio
Matsunaga. $150,000.

Margins: NO, 1HF, 2HF. Odds: 16.40, 8.40, 12.20.
Also Ran: Governor Malibu, Stradivari, Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine, Gettysburg, Suddenbreakingnews, Trojan Nation, Exaggerator, Seeking the Soul, Forever d’Oro.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

A ‘Brilliant’ Mating…

Bred and sold by Greg Goodman’s Mt Brilliant Broodmares LLC, Creator was purchased by Maverick Racing for $440,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September sale and was turned over to trainer Steve Asmussen, who tried the colt on the turf in his first two career starts, good for a debut second at Churchill Sept. 19 followed by a fifth at Keeneland Oct. 21. Switched to the dirt, Creator was runner-up in a sloppy Churchill maiden Nov. 28 on the ‘Stars of Tomorrow II’ program, then filled the same spot at the Fair Grounds Dec. 31 and Feb. 12 before bursting through with a 7 1/4-length graduation at Oaklawn 15 days later.

Allowed to take his chance in the GII Rebel S. Mar. 19, Creator trailed by as many as 15 lengths and was still 10th nearing the final quarter mile, but rallied past seven of those rivals to complete a Tapit 1-3, three lengths behind Cupid. With his form on an upswing entering the Apr. 16 GI Arkansas Derby, he found himself a distant last, but this time his stretch rally carried him to a 1 1/4-length defeat of fellow back marker Suddenbreakingnews (Mineshaft). Never in contention last time in the GI Kentucky Derby, Creator was beaten better than 18 lengths in 13th at odds of 16-1 and offered those who still believed a similar quote Saturday.

‘Creating’ His Own Luck…

Gettysburg (Pioneerof the Nile), recently transferred from Todd Pletcher to Steve Asmussen and a horse many believed was in the race with the express intent of setting things up for his new stablemate, soon found his way to the front beneath Paco Lopez, but Destin and Javier Castellano were intent on keeping in close contact with that one, while the latter’s stablemate Stradivari (Medaglia d’Oro) was forwardly placed to his outside. The well-backed Suddenbreakingnews raced as the meat of the sandwich between ‘TDN Rising Star’ Cherry Wine (Paddy O’Prado) and favored Exaggerator (Curlin), while further towards the back of the field, Irad Ortiz, Jr. had managed to get the outposted Creator down into the two path prior to the entrance to the first of Belmont’s two sweeping turns.

Gettysburg remained the boss as the field turned up the backstretch, and the first decisive move of the race came from Kent Desormeaux, who guided the GI Preakness S. winner into the four path and out of harm’s way as Creator inched his way up into about midfield to the inside of Suddenbreakingnews with just under a mile to travel. Glued to the fence throughout, Creator continued to creep forward as Gettysburg and Destin continued to eyeball one another, with Stradivari still in close attendance and GII Peter Pan S. runner-up Governor Malibu (Malibu Moon) an increasing threat while also saving ground.

Gettysburg carried the Belmont field into the stretch, but Destin had that move covered and struck to the front a furlong and a half from the line. Governor Malibu went for a run inside of the weakening pacesetter, but had that door slammed on him, while Creator was sticking on and was coming with a run underneath a one-paced Stradivari and the stage was set. Destin stuck his neck out and began to reach for the wire, but Creator refused to go away and dropped his gray head down on the line first. Lani, guided out into the clear down the backstretch, raced some seven deep on the turn and looked for a few strides like he could get the job done, but was forced to settle for third while covering a whopping 80 feet (over nine lengths) more than the winner, according to Trakus data.

“I thought Irad gave him a perfect trip,” said Asmussen, who trained Horse of the Year Curlin (Smart Strike) to a narrow defeat at the hands of the Pletcher-conditioned Rags to Riches in this race nine years ago. “I thought he saved yards and won by inches. He made the difference. “He saved a lot of ground going into the first turn. Gettysburg did his job. A great call by [WinStar CEO] Elliott [Walden] there. Forty-eight and four for a half allowed Creator to show who he is. I thought quite a bit of traffic around the quarter pole; Irad was beautifully patient. He went through a lot of traffic very smooth. Very proud of Creator; he stayed focused through the traffic and did all he could to get up and win a great race.”

It was the second Belmont victory for WinStar in the last six years (Drosselmeyer {Distorted Humor}, 2010) and the third winner with which Walden has been associated. He trained Prestonwood Farm’s Victory Gallop (Cryptoclearance) to a Triple Crown-ending defeat of Real Quiet (Quiet American) at Big Sandy in 1998.

Creator is the second produce for his dam, a 10-time winner and three-time champion in her native Peru. She was acquired privately by Mt Brilliant and made eight trips to the post in this country under the care of trainer Michael Matz, finishing runner-up in the GIII Obeah S. in 2009 and 2010 and third in the GI Personal Ensign S. in 2009. Morena, whose broodmare sire Summing eked out a neck victory in the 1981 Belmont, is the dam of the current 2-year-old Pear Lemonade (Lemon Drop Kid), a yearling colt from the final crop of the late Street Cry (Ire) and a Tiznow filly that was foaled two days before this year’s Derby. According to the Mt. Brilliant website, Morena is booked backed to Uncle Mo.

Team Exaggerator Take the Loss in Stride…

Exaggerator, who will enter stud at WinStar upon completion of his racing career, remained in contention into the stretch despite his four-wide trip, but once hopelessly beaten, Kent Desormeaux wrapped up on him.

“I just know there was nothing left,” said the jockey, a two-time Belmont winner who has also had his fair share of heartbreak in the race. “The horse was empty. He came off the bridle at the four and a half [furlong mark]. I didn’t move. I sat quiet and let him steady there, I let him cruise. When I picked him up at the quarter pole to go ahead and try to win the race, there was nothing there. He did not quicken and he has a turn of foot, and my brother and I call it, we say when I turn this guy loose he pops a wheelie he gets up so fast. And there was nothing there.”

Added trainer Keith Desormeaux, “The Triple Crown might have caught up to him. We will have to see. When he pulled up, he didn’t look winded. I don’t know. We’ll have to figure it out. Maybe he was just struggling with the surface. I was hoping to dispel the sloppy track thing but that has to come into play as well. I think it’s mostly Belmont is a deep, sandy surface and he might have had a little trouble with it.”

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