Hessonite picked up her third consecutive stakes victory with a 5 ¼-length romp in the $150,000 John Hettinger, while Lubash made it two straight by outdueling favored Compliance Officer in the $150,000 Ashley T. Cole, both for New York-breds, on Sunday afternoon at Belmont Park.
Confidently ridden by Ramon Dominguez from the rail, the 4-year-old Hessonite lingered near the back as Inimitable Romanee led the field of five state-bred fillies through early fractions of 24.54 and 50.11 seconds over the yielding turf course. Accelerating along the inside on the far turn, the Freud filly swung out and grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch, crossing the wire in 1:52.12 for the 1 1/8 miles under a hand ride.
“Ramon has so much confidence in her,” said David Donk, who trains Hessonite for William Punk, Jr. and Philip DiLeo. “Like he said, with a different horse, the post may have been an issue; with her, no. The way she runs, wherever there’s a seam, she’s there; wherever he wants her, she’s there. Very professional. I’m just very fortunate my name is on the program.”
Winner of the Irish Linnet and Yaddo stakes this summer at Saratoga Race Course, Hessonite is now 3-2-0 from six starts in 2012. Two of those losses came to rival Gitchee Goomie, who was never a factor Sunday in finishing fourth.
The 3-5 favorite, Hessonite returned $3.20 for a $2 win bet and earned $90,000, increasing her bankroll to $590,310.
“She’s a nice one,” said Dominguez, who has been aboard for seven of Hessonite’s eight career victories. “She does everything that you ask her, and she doesn’t mind the soft going here, which doesn’t hurt either.”
Hessonite’s stablemate, 19-1 shot Freedom Rings, also trained by Donk, closed from last to finish second, with Inimitable Romanee, Gitchee Goomie, and Dreaming of Cara completing the order of finish. Go Unbridled, Lady On the Run, and Lady’s Lunar Luck were scratched.
Lubash, who was coming off a last-to-first victory in the West Point on August 16 at the Spa, ran second, six lengths back, as long shot Abilio set fractions of 26.52, 51.57 and 1:16.50. Closing the gap on Abilio on the turn, with Compliance Officer in hot pursuit, Lubash and jockey Jose Lezcano straightened for home with a one-length lead and fought off the favorite to win by a head.
“Today it was a different kind of race,” said Lezcano of the 5-year-old son of Freud, who is owned by Aliyu Ben J Stable. “I let him break and I wanted to be sitting second, because I knew there wasn’t too much speed in the race. I kept waiting, and when I asked him, he gave me a good kick. Easy job when you have a good horse!”
Lubash completed the 1 1/8 miles over the yielding turf course in 1:53.27 as he lifted his 2012 record to 2-1-0 from four starts for trainer Christophe Clement.
“He’s never run a bad race since he’s been with us,” said Clement. “Last time he won running last [in the early going of the West Point]; this time he won being second. We’ll look next at New York Showcase Day [October 20] which will give us a bit of time.”
Lubash returned $6.60 for a $2 win bet and with the winner’s purse of $90,000 now has earned $476,629. Street Game closed through the stretch to finish 1 ¼ lengths back in third, and was followed in turn by Westside Corral, Majestic Raffy, Hangover Kid, Minnie Punt, and Abilio.