Blossoming on turf for Brown, Kalik wires foes in Pennine Ridge

Blossoming on turf for Brown, Kalik wires foes in Pennine Ridge
Photo: Joe Lambozzetta / NYRA photo

Kalik made the grade with a gate-to-wire score in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge, a nine-furlong inner turf test for sophomores, at Belmont Park.

Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, the Canadian-bred Collected colt won his third straight race under Irad Ortiz Jr., who was also piloting his fourth winner on the card.

“There wasn’t too much speed in the race and that helped him a lot. He has some talent and he’s a nice horse,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t afraid of the distance for sure. I know he can stay all day and appreciate the distance. He took me all the way and at the three-eighths pole, I let him do his thing and he picked it up on his own and kept rolling to the wire. He was ready and Chad did a great job getting him ready.”

Kalik, owned by Robert LaPenta, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables, exited post 5 and surged to the lead with Freedom Trail tracking his early foot through an opening quarter-mile in 24.69 seconds and a half-mile in 49.17 over the firm footing. A rank Congruent advanced to fourth down the backstretch to the outside of Lachaise as the 3/2 mutuel favorite Silver Knott, runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Keeneland, tracked in fifth under Richie Mullen while racing to the inside of Grade 2-placed Far Bridge under Joel Rosario.

Kalik maintained his lead into the final turn with Freedom Trail still pestering while Mullen was angling Silver Knott off the rail in search of racing room. Kalik continued to find more as the field straightened away and kicked clear to a 2 1/2-length lead at the stretch call as Silver Knott launched his bid. Meanwhile, Far Bridge, who was shuffled back to last through the final turn, was resurgent along the rail in the stretch run and closed with aplomb. But there was no reeling in Kalik, who scored by one length in a final time of 1:47.85.

Far Bridge earned place honors by a head over Silver Knott with Lachaise, Freedom Trail, Congruent and Belouni rounding out the order of finish. Sharar, who ran fifth in the Audubon earlier today at Churchill Downs, was scratched.

The Pennine Ridge offers the top-three finishers an automatic invite to the $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on July 8. Brown said he would definitely consider pointing the $200,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase to the 10-furlong test for sophomores. Also on the radar is the $1 million King's Plate, a 10-furlong Tapeta test which is restricted to Canadian-bred sophomores on Aug. 20 at Woodbine.

“In the summertime, if he stays healthy, I’m really interested in the King’s Plate,” Brown said. “It’s a race we’ve never won and it’s an interesting idea for this horse down the road."

Kalik graduated at third asking over the Gulfstream Park turf in March and followed with a frontrunning score against winners on May 7 at Belmont Park. He was last-of-seven on debut sprinting six furlongs over main track at Aqueduct Racetrack in September, but Brown said a switch to turf and a productive winter at Payson Park benefitted the chestnut.

"Sometimes if I’m on the fence about them, I’ll start them on the dirt. It was obvious shortly into that debut race that we had to try something different," Brown said. "He ran well on the turf and we rested him for a bit down at Payson Park and the horse really just blossomed over the winter. He put a bunch of weight on and he matured. He was like an immature teenager last year. He always trained well, but he was just a stick figure kind of horse. Now he’s filled out and turned into a real man."

LSU Stables’ Far Bridge, who rallied to miss by a nose last out to Saturday's Audubon winner Webslinger in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs, once again demonstrated his serious closing kick.

“He looked very comfortable where we were at and then he just kind of wanted to get in and I lost a little position,” Rosario said. “He got to hanging but then he took off again (down the stretch) and ran a little bit green. The winner got an easy lead, and I think he (Far Bridge) ran a good race.”

Bred in Ontario by Peter A. Berglar Racing Interests and Anderson Farms, Kalik banked $110,000 in victory while improving his record to 5: 3-1-0. He paid $7.90 for a $2 win ticket.

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