Violon Sacre in tune in Knickerbocker
Bernard Weill's VIOLON SACRE (Stravinsky) finished with his trademark flourish to capture Sunday's $100,000 Knickerbocker S. (G3) at Belmont. By catching a loose-on-the-lead Whatsthescript (Ire) (Royal Applause [GB]) and inching one length clear, the 4-5 favorite notched his first graded score. The Patrick Biancone charge negotiated 1 1/8 miles on the yielding turf in 1:52 3/5 and returned $3.70, $2.70 and $2.50.
Whatsthescript took up the pacesetting role because front runner extraordinaire Presious Passion (Royal Anthem) was scratched, as expected, on account of the rain-soaked ground. Presious Passion has now been entered in Thursday's Sycamore S. (G3) at Keeneland. Also withdrawn from the Knickerbocker were a couple of other possible pace factors, Leading On (Mt. Livermore) and Midnight Mischief (Medaglia d'Oro), along with the main-track-only entrants Barrier Reef (Mizzen Mast), Discreet Treasure (El Prado [Ire]) and Marilyn's Guy (Yonaguska).
Seizing the initiative in the scratch-reduced field, Whatsthescript carved out fractions of :25, :51 4/5 and 1:17 3/5, pursued by Interpatation (Langfuhr) and War Hoot (War Chant). Defending champion Operation Red Dawn (Miswaki), Baletti (Gulch), Violon Sacre and Wesley (El Prado [Ire]) were all biding their time, in that order.
Whatsthescript kicked for home at the top of the stretch and dared his rivals to run him down. Violon Sacre was the only one up to the challenge. Rallying strongly beneath Pablo Fragoso, Violon Sacre drew alongside Whatsthescript, who fought back stubbornly. Violon Sacre had too much to repel, though, and was well on top at the wire.
Fragoso commented on his trip.
"Mr. Biancone told me, 'You know this horse better than me. Just break and sit, and when you turn for home, turn him loose.' And that made my trip," Fragoso said.
"Because he drew the outside, he had to drop back a little further than planned because he likes to race covered up, and then had to move a little earlier than planned as well," Biancone said.
"He has a huge turn of foot. He seems to be improving with every race. In Europe, he was just below the good horses. Some horses come to the United States and do not acclimate well; he has. I am very happy with him."
Whatsthescript, the 5-1 third choice, yielded $4.80 and $3.40 for his fine effort with new tactics.
"He ran really game today," said Marcelo Arenas, assistant to trainer Gary Contessa. "The key with this horse is Johnny (Velazquez). He rides him very well and the horse likes him. And the plan today was if nobody else went to the lead, then we were going, and it turned out to be the best thing to do."
Baletti was along for third, another 1 1/2 lengths back, and provided $4.90 to show at 14-1. The exotics were worth $17.60 (exacta), $106.50 (trifecta) and $366 (9-4-7-1 superfecta) with the 5-1 War Hoot in fourth. Wesley, Operation Red Dawn and Interpatation rounded out the order of finish.
Violon Sacre improved his scorecard to 17-10-3-0 while boosting his bankroll to $489,392. Originally based in France with Jean-Claude Rouget, he garnered the 2009 Prix du Point du Jour and placed in the 2008 Prix de Saint-Patrick. In his American debut for Biancone, the five-year-old finished fourth to Get Serious (City Zip) in an optional claimer at Monmouth. Since then he has won three of four -- the July 10 Battlefield S. and the September 18 P.T.H.A. President's Cup S. prior to the Knickerbocker -- and just missed to the tough Get Serious in the August 1 Oceanport S. (G3) in the other.
Bred by Ocala Horses in Kentucky, Violon Sacre RNA'd for $14,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, but sold to Rouget for $70,668 as a Goffs France two-year-old. He is the first registered foal from multiple stakes queen and Grade/Group 3-placed Histoire Sainte (Fr) (Kendor). Her youngest offspring are an unraced juvenile colt named Kersaint (More Than Ready) and a yearling filly named Lune Sainte (Mutakddim).
This is the family of Bering (GB) (Arctic Tern), the 1986 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (Fr-G1) victor and an influential sire, as well as Group 2 winner Balakheri (Theatrical [Ire]) and Gran Premio di Milano hero *Beaugency (*Val de Loir). Violon Sacre's fourth dam, Barbra (Fr) (*Le Fabuleux), is a full sister to Prix Royal Oak (French St Leger) (Fr-G1) winner Bourbon.
On the New York worktab
Four-time stakes star and classic-placed JACKSON BEND (Hear No Evil), a tiring sixth in his return in the Star of Cozzene S., breezed a half-mile in :48 over Belmont Park's fast main track on Sunday.
Canadian champion NEGLIGEE (Northern Afleet), a distant sixth in the Garden City S. (G1) last out, also went in :48.
Multiple Grade 2 hero GONE ASTRAY (Dixie Union), fourth in the Philip H. Iselin S. (G3), covered five furlongs in 1:01.
Grade 3 veteran BUDDY'S HUMOR (Distorted Humor), last seen finishing third in a stakes-quality allowance/optional claimer in July, traveled four panels in :48 2/5.
KID KATE (Lemon Drop Kid), who earned her second stakes victory in the Belle Cherie S., zipped in :47 3/5.
Dual stakes queen STARSHIP ANGEL (Running Stag), fourth in the Ruffian Invitational H. (G1) two back, posted :51.
Smashing maiden romper UPPER EAST SIDER (Forest Wildcat) sped in :48 for Saturday's Maid of the Mist S. on New York Showcase Day.
Grade 2-placed CAPTAIN CHEROKEE (Sir Cherokee), runner-up in the Harvey Arneault Memorial S. two back, strolled in :50 2/5.
On the fast training track, multiple Grade 3 diva AILALEA (Pulpit) covered a half-mile in :50. The Todd Pletcher filly was most recently runner-up to Kid Kate in the Belle Cherie.
Toboggan S. (G3) victor WALL STREET WONDER (City Place), eighth in the Vosburgh S. (G1), clocked :49 3/5.
Bed o' Roses S. (G3) second QUALIA (Saarland), fourth in the Gallant Bloom H. (G2) last out, finished up in :50.
REMAND (Successful Appeal), third in the Woody Stephens S. (G2), Dwyer S. (G2) and Bay Shore S. (G3) in his last three, was caught in :49 3/5.
New York-bred stakes scorers IBBOYEE (Medallist) and MANTECA (Aptitude) worked toward Saturday's Empire Classic on New York Showcase Day. Ibboyee, second in the Swale S. (G2) and Withers S. (G3) earlier in the season, and Manteca, fourth in the Salute Me Sir S. last out, each negotiated five furlongs in 1:01 3/5.
UNDERSTATEMENT (Distorted Humor), a dual stakes winner earlier in the season who most recently finished last of seven in the May 15 William Donald Schaefer S. (G3), breezed in 1:02 4/5.
Stakes winner THREE DAY RUSH (Harlan's Holiday), shelved since winding up ninth in the Gotham S. (G3), completed his trial in 1:03 2/5.
At Saratoga, Grade 3 victor NITE LIGHT (Thunder Gulch) logged four furlongs in :50 on the fast Oklahoma training track. The Pletcher trainee was a close second in the Excelsior S. (G3) when last seen in April.
Grade 3 veteran OUR EDGE (The Cliff's Edge), third in the Grover "Buddy" Delp Memorial S. in his latest, exercised in :51.
Canadian Grade 2 heroine THE NIAGARA QUEEN (Langfuhr) readied for her return to competition off a 21-month vacation with a five-eighths move in 1:04.
Undefeated juvenile NEVER RIGHT JOEY (Tapit), who took the High Rock Springs S. in late August, went in 1:02 3/5. The Pletcher colt is nominated to Saturday's Sleepy Hollow S.
KITTY IN A TIZZY (Tiznow), second to presumptive Canadian champion three-year-old filly Biofuel (Stormin Fever) in the recent Selene S. (Can-G3), reeled off a half-mile in :48 1/5.
Over Aqueduct's fast strip, Grade 3-placed multiple stakes queen MERIWETHER JESSICA (Freud) worked one mile in 1:47 4/5. The trailer in the Noble Damsel S. (G3), the Rick Violette mare could revert to New York-bred company for Saturday's Ticonderoga S.
Pilgrim S. (G3) third DECIPHERING DREAMS (Freud) sped four panels in :48 3/5.
Grade 3 veteran OIL MAN (Ire) (Pyrus), last of six in the Harry F. Brubaker S. at Del Mar, blitzed in :48 in advance of his New York premiere.
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