Iris Smith Stable's Seymourdini was dominant in winning his first stakes race, capturing the second running of the $100,000 State Dinner for 4-year-olds and up by an impressive 10 ½ lengths on Monday at Belmont Park.
The 4-year-old son of Bernardini went to the front with Ocean Knight, setting fractions of 22.62 seconds for a quarter-mile with the half going in 44.94 under heavy rain. Jockey Jose Ortiz moved Seymourdini just off the inside out of the turn and gained separation in the stretch to complete 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.81.
"I wanted to be on the lead, but he didn't break quite like I wanted him to, so I had to chase them a little bit," Ortiz said. "Then I just dropped my hands and he relaxed very well on the backstretch. We passed the three-eighths pole, I looked back and saw Ocean Knight by me. I was already asking him a little bit, so I started asking for a little bit more. He responded very well. Entering the stretch, he switched leads and gave me another gear. I peeked up at the screen and didn't see anyone close, so I just let him gallop."
Seymourdini won his third straight race following a pair of victories in allowance races at Laurel Park. He improved his career record to 5-2-1 in nine starts.
"He's pretty spectacular," Rice said. "It took us a long time to get him into this kind of form. He showed a lot of talent as a 2-year-old. He showed talent as a 3-year-old. It's taken time for him to mature mentally and physically and put it all together. But today, he did."
Off as the 9-5 favorite, Seymourdini paid $5.90 on a $2 win bet and improved his career earnings to $229,027. Rice said he might next target the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego on August 26 at Saratoga Race Course with the ultimate goal being the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on December 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
"I like running him further," Rice said. "He relaxes. He's run two spectacular miles. I think our long-term goal should be the Cigar Mile. That races makes stallions."
Seymourdini won his first start going 1 1/16 miles.
"He did handle [the distance] today," Ortiz said. "The rain, too, I think helped. He likes a wet track. I'd rather see him running at a mile flat. He did handle it well, he showed me today. I think the farthest he wants to go would be 1 1/16 miles with the right company."
Trainer Todd Pletcher saw his two entrants, Hard Study and Madefromlucky, finish second and third, respectively.
Ocean Knight, Virtual Machine, Realm, Discreet Lover, Doyouknowsomething and Touchofstarquality completed the order of finish.
Source: NYRA Communications (Brian Bohl)