It was only a matter of minutes after
Fortify had broken his maiden on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course that his
trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, stamped him as a contender for the Grade 2,
$300,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful, the featured race on closing day.
Making his debut in Saturday’s third race, Fortify led exiting
the chute in the 6 ½-furlong race before yielding the top spot to Boss Man
Rocket. Fortify remained off the flank of the pacesetter through an opening
quarter mile in 21.73 seconds, regained the top spot with three eighths to
travel, led through a half in 44.43, and slipped clear when set down by Joe
Bravo en route to a 5 ½-length victory.
The final time for 6 ½ furlongs was 1:16.34, with Fortify paying $10.40
for a $2 wager as the 4-1 fourth choice. With the win, the 2-year-old son of
Distorted Humor becomes the fourth juvenile and first colt from the 2012 Saratoga meet to join the
New York Watch, which profiles promising maiden winners on The New York Racing
Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit.
“He has trained very well and we were looking for a very good
performance out of him, but that was pretty special,” said trainer Kiaran
McLaughlin. “The fractions were very fast. He was laying second, just off
them. He acted up a little bit in the gate – we’ll have to work on
that – but we were just happy to see him run so well.”
Fortify, a Darley Stable homebred, is out of Kotuku, a placed daughter
of Flagbird, who was awarded highweight honors in England,
Ireland, and Italy, with her top win coming in the Group 1
Premio Presidente Della Repubblica in Italy. Flagbird produced three
stakes-placed runners, including Dubai Belle, herself the dam of Grade 1
Ashland winner Little Belle. Little Belle, like Kotuku, is by A.P. Indy.
Fortify also hails from the family of Grade 1 Ashland and Grade 1 Acorn heroine
The seven-furlong Three Chimneys Hopeful will be contested on Labor
Day, September 3.