The veteran gelding Bribon returned to the scene of his
greatest triumph Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park,
charging from last to first for a 1½-length victory over Snapshot in the 32nd
running of the Grade 2, $250,000 True North Handicap.
The 7-year-old son of Mark of Esteem, who last year won
Belmont Park’s prestigious Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, stayed well behind
Checklist’s opening fractions of 22.49 and 45.60, then barreled widest of all
as they straightened for home, taking command with 100 yards to go and
completing six furlongs in 1:09.63 over the fast track.
“There were quite a few horses with speed and I just needed
to find a place for him to settle into a simple rhythm, and then quicken when I
asked him,” said winning rider Garrett Gomez of Bribon, who is owned by Derrick
Smith and trained by Todd Pletcher. “He picked them up with ease and came home
with ease – just the way you’d like.”
Favored Checklist, also trained by Pletcher, held for third,
4¼ lengths back, and was followed by Formidable, Elusive Warning, More Than a
Reason, Fantasy Free, and Gato Go Win.
Custom for Carlos, the morning-line favorite, was scratched
with a minor foot injury. Strasbourg
was also scratched.
With the victory, his first on dirt since the 2009 Met Mile,
Bribon extended his lifetime record to 10-9-3 from 33 starts and became a
millionaire in the process, with earnings of $1,028,763.
He returned $7.50 for a $2 win bet.
“I thought with Quality
Road going to the  Met Mile, it could open a
lot of options for Bribon,” said Pletcher. “He had won at [age] 6 and 7 and
he’s just a very versatile horse.
“I thought Checklist ran huge,” he added. “The Vanderbilt
[Grade 1, August 8, Saratoga Race Course] is a possibility for both; we’ll play
it by ear.”
The True North was one of five graded stakes on the
undercard for the 142nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont