Oscar Performance (USA) lands third Grade 1 in Secretariat Stakes

Amerman Racing’s homebred Oscar Performance (USA) proved once again that he is the top turf sophomore in America with a third career Grade I triumph in Saturday’s US$400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington International Racecourse.

Trained by Brian Lynch, the winner of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the Belmont Derby Invitational last out — both Grade I events — sat comfortably under regular pilot Jose Ortiz in second by two lengths in the 1¼-miles grass event for 3-year-olds as Lothenbach Stables’ Ian Wilkes-conditioned Sonic Boom set leisurely early fractions of 24.77 for the quarter and 49.51 for the half-mile under Julien Leparoux. Following six furlongs in 1:13.83, the son of Kitten’s Joy challenged the leader approaching the quarter-pole — completing the mile in 1:38.03 — then powered past said rival and proved an impressive 2¼-length victor in a final time of 2:01.79.

Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael B. Tabor’s Aidan O’Brien-trained Taj Mahal (IRE) rallied from fifth of a sextet to finish second by 1½ lengths under Ryan Moore, while Al Shaqab Racing’s Jean-Claude Rouge-trained Afandem (FR) overcame a slow break to rally and snag third by three-quarters of a length under Frankie Dettori. Sonic Boom was fourth by 3½ lengths, followed by Gorgeous Kitten under Florent Geroux. Well-regarded English trainee Permian (IRE) was injured after the finish, checking in 3½ lengths behind Gorgeous Kitten under William Buick, who was unseated.

The victory was Oscar Performance’s sixth from nine lifetime starts and the $240,000 winner’s share increased his career bankroll to $1,737,632. Sent to post as the 3-2 favorite by the betting public, Oscar Performance returned $5, $3.40 and $2.40. Taj Mahal (IRE) returned $6 and $4, while Afandem (FR) returned $3.20 to show.

“He was sitting very comfortably in second and when I asked him to go he ran very well,” Ortiz said. “I love that Brian Lynch gave me the opportunity on this horse. I’m very happy I won the race for (Amerman Racing and Brian Lynch).”

“You’re never confident until the finish line, but they were very good horses and so we’re delighted Jose could ride so well and beat them,” John Amerman said. “I said good luck (to Jose Ortiz before the race) because he knows the horse and has ridden him ever since his first race.”

“I got the trip I wanted,” Ryan Moore said. “The horse ran well.”

“Everything went smooth like I thought,” Dettori said. “He’s a young horse and he hasn’t encountered these kinds of bends. You have to race into them and race off them and he’s not used to those kinds of things and lost all his momentum on the turns and that cost me.”

“He ran a good race,” Leparoux said. “We went right to the front, which was the plan, and he relaxed really nicely for me. I think maybe the trip was a little too far for him.”

“I didn’t feel there was a lot of pace during the race,” Geroux said. “He started making his move – he just couldn’t catch those horses on the front end.”

Oscar Performance (USA) and Jose Ortiz head for the line, picture Grant Courtney -

What the jockeys said:

Irad Ortiz, Jr. (jockey, Dacita, 1st): “First I want to thank the owner for giving me the opportunity. I got a perfect trip, I got the one hole and broke out of there and got close I didn’t want to be too far. I saved all the ground and she was there for me.”

Sol Kumin (owner, Dacita, 1st): “We were waiting for waiting for her to be right and praying for some firm ground and we got it today and got super lucky. This filly is something special, the way she finished we knew she had it in her. Thanks to Mr. Brown. We’ll have to regroup and talk to Chad with the Breeder’s Cup being the goal.”

Declan Cannon (jockey, Dona Bruja, Dead Heat 2nd): “She didn’t start as good as she normally does, she dragged me around for six furlongs and did a little more than she normally does. In the stretch she gave me a little kick, but it wasn’t what she normally can do but I think she tired herself out fighting me.”

Joel Rosario (jockey, Grand Jete, Dead Heat 2nd): “I was trying to save ground. Turning for home I had to wait a little bit longer than I wanted but she ran good.”

Jose Ortiz (jockey, Rainha Da Bateria, 4th): She broke good and we wound up in the back. I couldn’t go anywhere and I didn’t want to be too wide. I had to take a pretty good hold of her by the turn and a horse was coming out on me.

Florent Geroux (jockey, Kitten’s Roar, 5th): “It was a pretty good trip just stalking the leaders. I tried to follow the winner when she made her move on the outside and just couldn’t keep up.”

Andrasch Starke (jockey, Sarandia, 6th): “She didn’t jump very fast, she needed a furlong to just find herself and then I was second-last until the straight. She finished not bad.”

Julien Leparoux (jockey, Hawksmoor, 7th): “She broke slow and stumbled a little bit, after that she was just doing a little bit too much early on.

Frankie Dettori (jockey, Zipessa, 9th): “I made the lead, but I think ten furlongs is too long for her, she should go back to nine. She’s very honest.”

Jose Valdivia, Jr. (jockey, Prado’s Sweet Ride, 10th): “Dream trip, but when they pushed to the metal they just left her there. I’m proud of her, beautiful trip – just not good enough.”