Giants Play set a glacial tempo while racing on a
relaxed lead and held off a late charge from Zagora to win Belmont Park’s
Grade 2, $150,000 New York for fillies and mares on Saturday.
The Newsells Park Stud color-bearer dictated fractions of 52.99 and
1:17.65, opened a 1 ½-length advantage on the far turn, and dug in late to
prevail by a diminishing head and earn her first victory in the United States.
Off as the 7-2 third choice, Giants Play returned $9.20 for a $2 win
wager and completed 1 ¼ miles over the firm inner turf course in 2:04.76,
running the final quarter-mile in 23.33.
The New York
was Giants Play’s first start since a runner-up effort in the Grade 2
Sheepshead Bay on May 28, in which she was rank while racing in fifth through
the early stages.
“She was a lot more relaxed today and it helped me do my job
better,” said winning jockey Rajiv Maragh. I felt like we were going
slow, but my main thing was to try to get her to settle. It was the key to
getting the best out of her, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t worried
about the fractions at all.”
To help the Giants Play relax, winning trainer Christophe Clement placed
a net over her nose prior to the New
York, and the move appears to have paid off.
“She was rank last time and was fighting too much,” said
Clement. “This time we ran her with a net, put her on the lead, and she
was a lot more relaxed. She ran a very game race. The net sits on their
nostrils and for some, it relaxes them.”
Clement was thrilled to pick up a graded-stakes victory with Giants
Play, a 4-year-old daughter of European Horse of the Year Giants Causeway and
English champion Playful Act who sold for $850,000 as a yearling.
“[She’s] very well bred, so to win a graded stakes was a
goal this year,” said Clement. “She’s done it. Where do we go
next? I don’t have a clue. Let’s enjoy it. It is a big deal.
It’s an amazing pedigree, and she’s obviously a very valuable mare.”
Giants Play, bred in Kentucky by
Swettenham Stud, is now 2-2-5 from 11 starts and 1-1-2 from 4 races in the United States.
Previously, she had won one race from seven starts in England. The New York victory, worth $90,000, lifted her
earnings to $155,949.
Hibaayeb, favored in the New York off
her triumph in the Sheepshead
Bay, finished third, and
she was followed home by Freedom Rings, Prize Catch, and La Cloche. Trix in the
City was scratched.