Candy Ride's Vekoma All the Way in Runhappy Met Mile



Given a positive ride by Javier Castellano, R A Hill Stable and Gatsas Stable's Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) dared them to catch him in Saturday's GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. at Belmont, and catch him they could not, as the immaculately bred chestnut made every yard of the running to best perfect-trip Network Effect (Mark Valeski) by 1 1/4 lengths. Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}) was forced to cover ground on the turn, but plugged on gamely to be third, while favored 'TDN Rising Star' McKinzie (Street Sense) had little stretch response and could do no better than fifth.

The second betting choice by roughly $15,000, Vekoma was kicked straight into a clear advantage and galloped along comfortably enough a bit off the inside through an opening quarter in :22.73 over a drying-out Belmont main track that was yielding fast times all afternoon. The outposted Warrior's Charge (Warrior's Reward) prompted from second, while McKinzie–who endured a luckless trip when runner-up to Mitole (Eskendereya) in this 12 months back–was kept in the clear and out of harm's way by Mike Smith from close up in fourth.

Vekoma, who romped to a 7 1/4-length defeat of Network Effect in the GI Runhappy Carter H. June 6, was nursed along into the turn after a half that was posted in a very manageable :45.87, but they were beginning to close ranks. Endorsed (Medaglia d'Oro), second to Code of Honor in the GIII Westchester S. June 6, attacked three wide, McKinzie four deep and Code of Honor was waited with on the back of the latter nearing the stretch. Shaken up off the home corner, Vekoma fended off Warrior's Charge at the furlong grounds, dug in doggedly and held sway, as Network Effect parlayed his golden trip into a runner-up effort. Code of Honor ran with credit to be third, while traveling 29 feet (about three lengths) more than the winner, per Trakus data.

“I was happy with our trip around the backside,” said trainer George Weaver, winning his fourth career Grade I and second in succession. “I knew we had natural speed, and no one really went with us, so I was happy with the fact that he was there. At the quarter pole, it seemed like all comers were coming and I thought, 'Man, does he have anything left in the tank or not?' When they got to the eighth pole and I saw him re-break and keep going, I got excited. It was fun.”

Winner of the GIII Nashua S. at two going a one-tun mile, Vekoma was the stalk-and-pounce winner of last year's GII Toyota Blue Grass S. and was shelved after a 13th–placed 12th–in the GI Kentucky Derby. The chestnut won the seven-furlong Sir Shackleton S. at Gulfstream Mar. 28 ahead of his tour-de-force in the Carter over that specialist trip last time. Vekoma is the first to complete the Carter/Met double since Wild Rush in 1998.

Pedigree Notes:

Vekoma is one of 16 top-level winners for his hugely successful stallion and is one of two foals to race from his dam, who defeated champion Informed Decision (Monarchos) in the GI Humana Distaff H. in 2010. Vekoma's now 6-year-old half-sister Bloody Point (War Front) won half of her six career starts and is the dam of a colt foal by Quality Road. His unraced 5-year-old half-sister L'Age d'Or (Medaglia d'Oro) foaled a War Front filly this year. Vekoma is Mona de Momma's last listed produce.

Vekoma's unplaced second dam was a half-sister to GI Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up Mr. Greeley (Gone West) and to the stakes-winning Majestic Legend (His Majesty), whose daughter Bedazzle (Dixieland Band) was responsible for champion, GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile and GI Kentucky Derby- winning 'TDN Rising Star' Street Sense (Street Cry {Ire}). The female family also includes MGISW 'Rising Star' Paradise Woods (Union Rags).

Saturday, Belmont Park
RUNHAPPY METROPOLITAN H.-GI, $500,000, Belmont, 7-4, 3yo/up, 1m, 1:32.88, ft.
1–VEKOMA, 123, c, 4, by Candy Ride (Arg)
1st Dam: Mona de Momma (GISW, $384,399), by Speightstown
2nd Dam: Society Gal, by Linkage
3rd Dam: Long Legend, by Reviewer
($135,000 Ylg '17 KEESEP). O-R. A. Hill Stable & Gatsas Stables;
B-Alpha Delta Stables, LLC (KY); T-George Weaver; J-Javier
Castellano. $275,000. Lifetime Record: 8-6-0-1, $1,245,525.
Werk Nick Rating: B. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Network Effect, 120, c, 4, Mark Valeski–Sandy Key Gal, by
Put It Back. ($95,000 2yo '18 OBSAPR). O-Klaravich Stables,
Inc.; B-Louis Jolin (FL); T-Chad C. Brown. $100,000.
3–Code of Honor, 124, c, 4, Noble Mission (GB)–Reunited, by
Dixie Union. ($70,000 RNA Ylg '17 KEESEP). O/B-W. S. Farish
(KY); T-Claude R. McGaughey III. $60,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, NK, HF. Odds: 1.95, 13.50, 3.60.
Also Ran: Warrior's Charge, McKinzie, Mr Freeze, Endorsed, Hog Creek Hustle.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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