Norumbega closed with a flourish to gain his first career stakes victory on Saturday at Belmont Park, edging favored Micromanage by a neck to win the 126th running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Brooklyn Invitational, the first graded event on Belmont Stakes Day.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, the gray son of Tiznow ran in fifth through the early going of the 1 ½-mile race, traipsing through fractions of 24.16, 48.73, 1:13.41 and hitting the mile in 1:37.87 before giving way. Cat Burglar then seized a narrow lead before being overtaken by Micromanage, but Norumbega closed stoutly to get up in the shadow of the wire.
His winning time for the 1 ½ miles was 2:27.13.
"I had a really good trip and my horse ran great," said Rosario. "I just followed the other horses around and was aware they weren't going too fast in front of me. When I asked him, he had plenty to give me. The other horses tried to get out a little, but he dug in, and it all worked out great."
Sent off at 10-1, Norumbega returned $22.40 for a $2 win bet as he scored his first win of the year. Prior to the Brooklyn, the Stuart Janney color-bearer eighth in the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland Race Course and second to Micromanage in the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park. Overall, he is now 4-3-1 from 13 starts.
"The slow early pace wasn't a big concern," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey. "He had been training really well and we expected him to run a big race. We're not sure where he'll go next because it's tough to find another 1 1 /2-mile race."
Micromanage was a half-length ahead of Cat Burglar.
"I didn't have any excuse at all," said Javier Castellano, aboard the beaten favorite. "I just got beat today. I had a beautiful trip. In the beginning of the race I saved all the ground, and turning for home I just let him go. He gave me the best run of his career but, unfortunately, he just got beat by a better horse today."
Completing the order of finish were Ever Rider, Ground Transport, Golden Soul and Eriugena. Bigger is Bettor was scratched.