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Breeders' Cup 2017

Minnie Punt, Chestoria Win at Belmont

Minnie Punt came from well off the pace to win the Kingston, while Chestoria edged clear in the Mount Vernon to settle Sunday’s duo of $100,000 statebred turf stakes. 


Sitting last of eight through swift early fractions of 23.69 and 46.42 set by Writingonthewall, Minnie Punt was forced to swing six-wide at the quarter pole to find running room in the Kingston.  Displaying a strong closing kick, the gelded son of Gold Fever got up in the final yards to win by a half-length. 


His final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:33.67 over Belmont Park’s firm Widener turf course.


“In his last race he came from way back, so I knew he could do it,” said trainer Mike Miceli. “There was a lot of speed and turning for home the jockey had a lot of horse. We brought him back and gave him one prep, and it worked out well.”


Minnie Punt carries the black, white and red colors of majority owner and breeder Marjac Pino Stable.  The gelding is the most successful foal out of stable principal Jim Pino’s mare Let’s Punt, whom he considers more pet than investment.


Minnie Punt broke his maiden at Aqueduct in April 2009. Venturing into stakes company in only his third start, Minnie Punt won the Spectacular Bid at odds of 28-1, paying $58.50 for a $2 win ticket.  He did not win again until prepping for the Kingston earlier this month in a Belmont Park turf allowance, again coming in at a big price.


Minnie Punt is now 4-1-2 from 10 starts with earnings of $162,555.  Pino said he planned to point the horse to the West Point Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in August and would also seek an interim race for him.  Minnie Punt returned $11.40 as the second choice in the eight-horse Kingston field.


Uncle T Seven finished second and Writingonthewall held for third.  Gimme Credit, Banrock, Star of New York, Cash’n in Dixie and Extra Zip completed the order of finish. 


In the Mount Vernon, a skillful ride by David Cohen put E EL R Stable’s Chestoria in position to edge clear in the stretch for her first win of the year.


As Akilina and Tulipmania traded spots on the lead through a half mile in 51.13, Chestoria waited patiently for room, before splitting horses to take over in the stretch, finishing 1 ¼ lengths clear of late-running Paraiba.


Her final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:42.89. 

“I think she ran a winning race last time [when third in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 1], but she was unfortunate with a slow pace,” said winning rider David Cohen.  “Today it looked like we’d get the same kind of pace, so we planned on putting her a little closer. We got a perfect trip. Things always open up – that’s turf racing. The race starts at the eighth pole, so I try to save horse.”


The 6-year-old daughter of Chester House ran her record to 7-4-3 from 24 starts and pushed her earnings to $451,556 with today’s victory.  Sent off as the fourth choice in the field of seven, Chestoria returned $16.80.


Akilina was third, favored You Go West Girl finished fourth, and Our Golden Dream, Tulipmania and Stormy Relations completed the order of finish. 


“It was nice the owners decided to run her another year,” said trainer Bill Badgett.  “David [Cohen] rode a great race and did a tremendous job of judging the pace. I thought they would go in 48 or 49, and when I saw them going in 51 and change, I was totally shocked. He put her in a perfect position. I don’t know exactly what is next for her but we will look ahead to Saratoga.”





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