When it came to riding Suffused in the 1 15/16-mile Belmont Coronation Invitational, jockey Jose Ortiz’s plan had nothing to do with where the filly would be during the near-two-mile journey, but how she did it.
Ortiz got Suffused to relax, and when he wanted her to come she did, mowing down five overmatched rivals in the final quarter-mile of the marathon (by U.S. standards) race. Suffused completed the 1 15/16 miles – the first-ever race at that distance in the long history of Belmont Park – in 3:23.26.
“I knew it was a long way to go, so I just wanted her to relax,” Ortiz said. “It didn’t matter to me whether we were last or first as long as she relaxed.”
The horse who did end up on the lead was Brandybend from trainer Marco Botti. Under Florent Geroux, Brandybend went the first mile in 1:43.60 and the Belmont Stakes distance of 1 1/2 miles in 2:37.46 before yielding to Suffused turning for home.
“Filly is typically forwardly placed, so I was happy to be relaxed on the lead,” Geroux said. “The big question for the whole field was the distance, and I do think this was a little far for her even though she was doing it all on her own.”
Ortiz meanwhile was just biding his time and was confident throughout the race.
“At the three-quarters I moved into good position, and at the quarter pole I had a lot of horse,” Ortiz said. “When we got in the clear she just exploded.”
Trained by Bill Mott for breeder Juddmonte Farms, Suffused is a four-year-old filly by Champs Elysees out of the stakes-placed winning Daylami mare Scuffle, whose half-brother is the Group 1-winning multiple highweight Cityscape.
Suffused has won four of 11 starts lifetime and has earned $189,997.
Achnaha closed from last to finish second, beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Suffused but three lengths ahead of favored Generosidade from Uruguay. Brandybend faded to fourth with Al Khazaaliya and Return to Grace completing the field.
Suffused photo courtesy of NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography