Prince Will I Am picked up the first stakes victory of his
career Saturday afternoon at Belmont
Park, edging clear after
a dramatic last-to-first run in the Grade 1, $250,000 Jamaica Handicap.
Trailing as Citrus Kid led the field of 11 through mild
opening fractions of 24.93 and 50.40, Prince Will I Am was carried six wide
into the stretch before chiming in with a powerful late run to seize the lead
at the sixteenth pole and finish 1 ¼ lengths clear of the pacesetter.
His final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.04 over turf
“[The lack of pace] was just terrifying, but it was just one
of those days where I woke up this morning – after two hours of sleep – and
everything was going his way,” said Michelle Nihei, who collected her first
graded stakes win as a trainer with the victory. “He’s not taken one step
wrong. If he was going to run a huge race, it was today.”
Though Nihei said she expected the colt to be closer early
in the race, she left the final decision up to jockey Jose Lezcano.
“I told Jose that I thought he should put him in the race a
little bit on the backside, but I said ‘Jose, you know that turf course better
than I do, so you choose.’ Jose came back and he said ‘I lost a little ground,
but I felt like we could make it up and I had him close enough that I was
comfortable and the horse was comfortable.’”
Among the 2010 Triple Crown hopefuls early in the year, the
son of Victory Gallop made his first start on turf this summer in Saratoga, finishing third
in allowance company on August 7, then overcoming major trouble to win an
optional claimer on the turf closing week.
victory advanced the colt’s record to 3-2-1 from 10 lifetime starts with
earnings of $203,090 for Casa Farms One, LLC, the nom de course of
owners Clinton and Susan Atkins.
While Prince Will I Am is not nominated for the Breeders’
Cup, Nihei said a start in one of the Championship races was not out of the
“Mr. and Mrs. Atkins…are still looking at the Breeders’ Cup
as an option. We’re looking at the mile and a half [Breeders’ Cup Turf] and
we’re also looking at the Marathon for the
mile and three-quarters on the dirt because he doesn’t really seem to mind
Prince Will I Am returned $21.60 for a $2 win bet as the 9-1
seventh choice. Beau Choix completed the trifecta, followed by Center Divider,
Teaks North, Fantastico Roberto, Two
Notch Road, Turf Melody, favored Krypton, Admiral
Alex and Lethal Combination.