Spendthrift Farm’s Following Sea, piloted by Joel Rosario, captured Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Vosburgh going six-furlongs on the dirt at Belmont Park, earning a “win and you’re in” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Following Sea wired the four-horse field for a comprehensive 4¾-length victory. After a third-place finish in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) on Aug. 28 at Saratoga Race Course to well-regarded Jackie’s Warrior and Life is Good, Following Sea returned to Big Sandy, where he is now 2-for-2 over the dirt course – adding to an impressive allowance win over older company in June.
Breaking from the outermost post, Following Sea was hustled to the lead and marked the opening quarter-mile in 22.59 seconds and a half-mile in 45.24 on the fast main track. Ridden confidently into the stretch, Rosario needed little urging to get his colt to break away from the rest of the field, easily drawing away to an impressive win in a final time of 1:09.20.
Last year’s Vosburgh winner Firenze Fire, who broke through the gate under Irad Ortiz, Jr. and had to be re-loaded, dueled for positioning with Baby Yoda down the backside. A course specialist with seven of his 14 career wins at Belmont, Firenze Fire attempted to reel in Following Sea at the quarter-pole but was unable to make up significant ground on the pacesetter and settled for second, 2½ lengths the better of Baby Yoda, who was 4¾ lengths clear of Good Effort. Jalen Journey was scratched.
Pletcher said he instructed Rosario to make a judgment call on tactics following the break.
“We just wanted to take advantage of the outside post and see how everything unfolded,” Pletcher said. “He broke great, put himself right on the front and it seemed like he was in hand throughout. He looked like he kicked on pretty well and Joel wrapped up on him pretty late.”
Rosario said he felt confident aboard Following Sea throughout.
“I just helped him out of there,” Rosario said. “It looked like he broke really well, and he put himself on the lead. I thought he liked that, and he ran a big race.”
Pletcher, while still undecided, said he is looking towards the Breeders’ Cup Sprint as a next start.
“We’ll play it by ear and see. I’ll talk to the guys at Spendthrift, and we’ll come up with a plan. It’s got to be in play,” Pletcher said.
Kelly Breen, trainer of Firenze Fire, said he still plans on sending his horse to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“It’s going to be a hot pace. Whether it’s Jackie’s Warrior or this horse (Following Sea), no one is going to have an easy lead in a slow pace. It’s going to be a heated event,” Breen said.
Bred in Kentucky by his owner, Following Sea provided his sire, Runhappy, his first graded stakes winner. Sent off as the 5-2 third choice, Following Sea returned $7 for a $2 win wager. He now boasts a 6: 3-1-2 record and has banked over $500,000 in his young career.