Fast Bullet shot to the lead coming out of the gate and turned back a late bid from entrymate Justin Phillip to win the 35th running of the Grade 2, $400,000 RTN True North Handicap
on Saturday at Belmont Park, the first of four graded stakes on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard.
Trained by Hall of
Famer Bob Baffert for Zayat Stables, the 5-year-old son of 2004 sprint
champion Speightstown zipped through an opening quarter-mile in 22.48
seconds with Off the Jak and Laurie’s Rocket in
close pursuit. Shaking free of those pursuers on the turn, Fast Bullet
repelled a challenge from Justin Phillip, who drew within striking
distance at the top of the stretch and pulled clear by 2 ½ lengths for
his first stakes win.
His time for six furlongs over the main track, which was rated “good,” was 1:08.27.
“I’d watched his races
and he always breaks a little slow, but he broke well today,” said
winning jockey Joel Rosario. “He’s really fast and he took me to the
It was the fourth
victory in five starts, and first of 2013, for Fast Bullet, whose only
two races as a 4-year-old were an optional claiming victory at Betfair
Hollywood Park, in which he earned a Beyer Speed
Figure of 109, and a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup
Sprint. At age 3, he was 2-for-2, winning a maiden race and a
“Bob sent him in and
said he was ready to roll,” said Tonja Terranova, assistant to Baffert,
who one race earlier won the $150,000 Easy Goer stakes for 3-year-olds
with Power Broker. “He came in here and trained
great the last few days. He was ready, just like Bob said he was.”
The entry, sent off at
4-5, returned $3.60 for a $2 win bet. With the winner’s purse of
$240,000, Fast Bullet’s bankroll increased exponentially to $327,000.
Laurie’s Rocket finished third, 4 ½ lengths back, followed by Off the Jak,
Valley, and last year’s True North winner, Caixa Eletronica. Reload was scratched.