Sent off as the 8-5 favorite, Sentiero Italia was content to sit behind the pacesetting Cara Marie, who led the field of 10 through an opening half. Under Joel Rosario, Sentiero Italia reeled in the leader at the top of the stretch and slipped away to complete 1 1/8 miles on an inner turf in 1:48.83.
The victory gave the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro her second straight graded stakes win and Rosario his fifth win on the day’s card.
Sentiero Italia is now 4-2 in a career that began last March with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, including a dead heat fourth-place finish in her stakes debut in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks on July 4 at Belmont and a Grade 2 score in the Lake Placid on August 14 at Saratoga.
“She had her issues early in her career, but she’s gotten good,” McLaughlin said after the race. “Once we got her going she hasn’t had any issues. She’s run every race we’ve pointed for. She’s top shelf.”
Sentiero Italia returned $5.40 on a $2 win bet while the winner’s share of the purse nearly doubled her lifetime bankroll, now reaching $621,100.
“She’s just honest,” said Rosario, who also won the Temperence Hill aboard Tacticus earlier on the card. “She gives it when you ask her, she just keeps going.”
Blond Me closed late to finish second, a neck ahead of Miss Temple City in third. Tapitry, Osaila, Mrs McDougal, Oromea, Cara Marie, Malabar and Marabea completed the order of finish.
(Heather Pettinger) Track Notes
• Preparing for a probable start in the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Handicap on October 3 at Belmont Park, multiple Grade 1 winner Honor Code breezed five furlongs in 59.45 seconds on Saturday over the Belmont main track.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Honor Code is likely to opt for the one-mile Kelso instead of the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on the same day, which he will use as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 31 at Keeneland.
“I was very pleased with the way he went [on Saturday],” said McGaughey, who trains Honor Code for Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm. “Nothing is ever a definite with racehorses, but [the Kelso] is my preference.”
Always highly thought of by the barn and bettors alike, Honor Code hadn’t quite lived up to the hype until 2015. The son of A.P. Indy took the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in his seasonal bow before faltering in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs, but then scored a spectacular victory in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, stealing a tiny portion of the spotlight away from Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s coronation.
• Coming off a successful summer meet at Saratoga Race Couse in which he finished third in the trainer standings with 15 wins including a victory in the Grade 1 Diana with 6-year-old mare Hard Not to Like, Christophe Clement was in full swing two days into the Belmont Park Fall Championship meet preparing his contingent for upcoming stakes.
Pointing to the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup is Robert S. Evans’ multiple graded stakes winner Tonalist. Working five furlongs in 1:00.80 Saturday morning to finish sixth of 35 horses at the distance, Clement was pleased with how his colt is doing following a third-place finish last out in the Whitney.
“Tonalist is doing great,” said Clement. “It was a nice work. He came back in good shape and he’s on course for the Jockey Club Gold Cup. His last work at Saratoga the previous week was very good as well over the Oklahoma training track, but everything is in order thus far.”
Red Vine, who shipped to California for the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar Racetrack on August 22, also worked Saturday at Belmont, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.66 and was listed by Clement as a possible for the Grade 2 Kelso.
Rounding out Clement’s contingent for upcoming stakes are multiple graded stakes winner Hard Not to Like, who will most likely head to the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational, while 3-year-old filly Divine Aida will be pointed to the Pebbles Stakes on October 12, and Irish-bred 4-year-old filly Marbre Rose,who most recently won the Grade 3 Seaway on August 8 at Woodbine Racetrack, is on track for next Saturday’s Grade 3 Noble Damsel.
• Jockey Joel Rosario’s championship meet got off to a blazing start on the first Saturday of the Belmont fall season, riding five winners from eight mounts, including a sweep of both stakes races on the card.
Rosario guided the Graham Motion-trained Tacticus to a 3 ¾-length victory in the third race, the $200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational, to kick off a four-race win streak that extended into the sixth race of the day.
In the fourth race, Rosario outkicked the maiden competition aboard Sail Ahoy for McGaughey and then piloted his highest-priced winner of the day in the fifth race, a $25,000 claiming event, with the 8-1 Mr Rosenthal for trainer Abigal Adsit. The 30-year-old journeyman took the sixth race, an allowance, by a neck aboard Savoy Stomp for Todd Pletcher.
Sitting atop the jockey leaderboard with six wins, Rosario has three more than Luis Saez, who posted a trio of victories on opening day, and Irad Ortiz Jr., who earned his first Saratoga leading rider title this summer.
Rosario will take his services north of the border to close out the weekend, riding a trio of stakes contenders at Woodbine on Sunday, including 5-2 favorite Lea in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile for New York-based Hall of Famer Bill Mott. He is scheduled to ride at Belmont on Wednesday.