Fifth of six early in the 1 1/8-mile race in his first start with blinkers, he closed behind splits of :46.97, and 1:10.34 that fatigued frontrunners Bal Harbour and Justinthenickoftime. He took over from Bankit , who had moved to the lead from a stalking position in midstretch, and outlasted a rallying Night Ops for a 1 1/4-length victory. Bankit faded to third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Night Ops.
Favored Ny Traffic was fourth, ahead of Bal Harbour and Justinthenickoftime.
The Todd Pletcher-trained winner, the 5-2 second favorite, raced 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:47.53. Dr Post ($7.20) carried highweight of 124 pounds, six more than the runner-up.
“I never rode this horse before, but Todd said he has been a little more focused with the blinkers,” Rosario said. “I think that was the case in the race. He was more focused, more forward even in the backside, and he seemed like he was going pretty easy. He took his time in the turn a little bit but when he started to stretch his legs he had a nice run, especially in the final sixteenth.
“I was happy with the early fractions and how fast they were going. I tried to get him into it a little more because he was going so easy, and I wanted to have him in the race a little more at that point. The last furlong he really got into his stride. It was a very good performance.”
A Quality Road colt who hit the board in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) and the Haskell Stakes last year at 3, Dr Post rebounded from a lackluster effort when fifth in the Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (G1) in his last outing June 5 at Belmont Park. That had followed a victory in the Westchester Stakes (G3) in his first outing at age 4.
“I thought (blinkers) made the difference today,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “He had a tricky trip in the Met also so that was a draw-a-line-through-it race. I do think he appreciated the mile-and-eighth today. We got a good honest pace and that helped him today. He got into a good comfortable rhythm and then put in a good sustained run.”
Bred in Kentucky by Cloyce C. Clark out of the grade 2-winning Hennessy mare Mary Delaney , Dr Post was a $400,000 purchase by Crupi’s New Castle Farm from Hunter Valley’s consignment to the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
He is one of three winners and the lone stakes winner from his dam’s nine foals, five of whom have raced. The dam also has an unraced 2-year-old filly by Klimt named Holystone.
Video: Monmouth Cup S. (G3)
Great Island Rallies to Take WinStar Matchmaker
Trainer Chad Brown originally had four fillies and mares on tap to face grade 1 winner Juliet Foxtrot in the $150,000 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (G3T).
As it turns out, he only ran three among a field of six and that was more than enough to run 1-2 in the July 17 graded turf stakes at Monmouth Park that offers a special bonus for the top three finishers once the mares head to the breeding shed.
Though Juddmonte’s Juliet Foxtrot rushed through a large, fortuitous hole along the rail to open a seemingly safe 2 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole of the 1 1/8-mile test, the final sixteenth proved telling as Alpha Delta Stables’ Great Island , even without jockey Joel Rosario (and every other jockey in the race) being able to use his crop to encourage his mare, rallied from last to prevail by a half-length over her fellow Brown-trained stablemate, Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, and First Row Partners’ daughter of Lope de Vega Kalifornia Queen .
Great Island rallies to take the Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth Park
Even-money favorite Juliet Foxtrot, winner of the mile Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T) two starts ago, settled for third, a length behind the winner.
“She’s a nice horse and it makes it easy when you ride that kind of horse,” Rosario said about the 5-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy.
Bred by Ben P. Walden Jr. and Larry Taylor out of the Rahy mare Voyage , the victory was the fourth in seven starts for Great Island, who was coming off a third in the Gallorette Stakes (G3T) for owner Jon Clay when the victorious Mean Mary was allowed to canter on the front end. Saturday’s race was Great Island’s initial graded stakes score.
“When that hole opened up, I thought Juliet Foxtrot was gone,” Brown said, “but Great Island did a nice job of closing and the distance helped. She ran a very good race as did Kalifornia Queen.”
Juliet Foxtrot, a 6-year-old Dansili mare, turned in an effort reminiscent of her last start, the 1 1/16-mile Mint Julep (G3T) at Churchill Downs when she led by two lengths at the eighth pole as a 1-2 favorite but settled for second.
“I’m a little disappointed. She was a heavy favorite,” trainer Brad Cox said. “It was a carbon copy of the Churchill race, giving up the lead late. I hope she comes out of it OK and maybe a mile is all she wants.”
Final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.89 on firm turf for Great Island, who paid $10.80 to win.
Great Island is one of 12 foals from Voyage and her first graded stakes winner. Her most recent foal is a yearling Munnings colt.
Saturday’s victory was Brown’s fifth in seven years in the Matchmaker, which offers the connections of the top three finishers the opportunity to breed their mare to one of three WinStar stallions: Audible , Global Campaign , and Tom’s d’Etat .
“It’s a nice race to win with the perks for the owners and I’m fortunate to have done well in it in recent years,” he said. “It also comes at a good time in the year and gives you a lot of good options going forward. We’ll take the top two back to New York and see where we go.”