Oscar Performance Lands Third Grade I in Secretariat
Amerman Racing’s homebred Oscar Performance proved once again that he is the top turf sophomore in America with a third career Grade I triumph in Saturday’s $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington International Racecourse.
Trained by Brian Lynch, the winner of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the Belmont Derby Invitational last out — both Grade I events — sat comfortably under regular pilot Jose Ortiz in second by two lengths in the 1¼-miles grass event for 3-year-olds as Lothenbach Stables’ Ian Wilkes-conditioned Sonic Boom set leisurely early fractions of 24.77 for the quarter and 49.51 for the half-mile under Julien Leparoux. Following six furlongs in 1:13.83, the son of Kitten’s Joy challenged the leader approaching the quarter-pole — completing the mile in 1:38.03 — then powered past said rival and proved an impressive 2¼-length victor in a final time of 2:01.79.
Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael B. Tabor’s Aidan O’Brien-trained Taj Mahal (IRE) rallied from fifth of a sextet to finish second by 1½ lengths under Ryan Moore, while Al Shaqab Racing’s Jean-Claude Rouge-trained Afandem (FR) overcame a slow break to rally and snag third by three-quarters of a length under Frankie Dettori. Sonic Boom was fourth by 3½ lengths, followed by Gorgeous Kitten under Florent Geroux. Well-regarded English trainee Permian (IRE) was injured after the finish, checking in 3½ lengths behind Gorgeous Kitten under William Buick, who was unseated.
The victory was Oscar Performance’s sixth from nine lifetime starts and the $240,000 winner’s share increased his career bankroll to $1,737,632. Sent to post as the 3-2 favorite by the betting public, Oscar Performance returned $5, $3.40 and $2.40. Taj Mahal (IRE) returned $6 and $4, while Afandem (FR) returned $3.20 to show.
“He was sitting very comfortably in second and when I asked him to go he ran very well,” Ortiz said. “I love that Brian Lynch gave me the opportunity on this horse. I’m very happy I won the race for (Amerman Racing and Brian Lynch).”
“You’re never confident until the finish line, but they were very good horses and so we’re delighted Jose could ride so well and beat them,” John Amerman said. “I said good luck (to Jose Ortiz before the race) because he knows the horse and has ridden him ever since his first race.”
“I got the trip I wanted,” Ryan Moore said. “The horse ran well.”
“Everything went smooth like I thought,” Dettori said. “He’s a young horse and he hasn’t encountered these kinds of bends. You have to race into them and race off them and he’s not used to those kinds of things and lost all his momentum on the turns and that cost me.”
“He ran a good race,” Leparoux said. “We went right to the front, which was the plan, and he relaxed really nicely for me. I think maybe the trip was a little too far for him.”
“I didn’t feel there was a lot of pace during the race,” Geroux said. “He started making his move – he just couldn’t catch those horses on the front end.”