WinStar Farm homebred Super Saver (Maria's Mon) ran away with the Kentucky Derby (G1) five weeks ago, and on Saturday the farm captured the last leg of the Triple Crown when DROSSELMEYER (Distorted Humor) rallied on the outside to take the $1 million Belmont S. (G1) by three parts of a length under jockey Mike Smith.
Drosselmeyer ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:31 2/5 to earn his initial career stakes score and give trainer Bill Mott his first classic victory. The win was also the first in the Belmont for Smith, who completed his own personal Triple Crown after taking the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo and the 1993 Preakness S. (G1) aboard Prairie Bayou.
"It was a great trip," Smith said. "It was all about getting into the rhythm and we did it. It worked out. It was incredible."
First Dude (Stephen Got Even) went right to the lead when the gates opened and proceeded to set reasonable splits of :24, :49, 1:14 4/5, 1:40 1/5 and 2:04 4/5 while tracked by Interactif (Broken Vow) to his outside. Uptowncharlybrown (Limehouse) was running just in behind and Game on Dude (Awesome Again) drafted off Interactif's flank. In the meantime, Smith settled Drosselmeyer in behind those four while running five wide outside of Fly Down (Mineshaft).
As the foursome neared the turn, Drosselmeyer began picking up the pace, Uptowncharlybrown was backing up and Fly Down briefly had to wait in behind horses. Drosselmeyer smoothly slid up on the outside and eventually wore down First Dude while Fly Down just got up by a neck to deny the pacesetter a second straight runner-up finish in a classic.
"I thought he was in a good position," Mott said. "I knew they were going slow, but he was in range. People don't know it, but this is the second Belmont winner I've saddled. I saddled Victory Gallop (in the 1998 Belmont) for Elliot (Walden, vice president and racing manager of WinStar Farm) when he had a broken leg."
Sent off the 13-1 sixth choice, Drosselmeyer paid $28, $11.60 and $7.70 while keying the $144.50 exacta and $766 trifecta. Fly Down was game in defeat, returning $6.80 and $5.10 as the 5-1 second pick, while First Dude gave back $4.90 as the 5-1 third favorite. Game on Dude held fourth over Uptowncharlybrown, ending the 7-5-11-8 superfecta that totaled $10,658.
"As soon as we got past a mile, he started picking it up," jockey John Velazquez said of Fly Down. "Mike rode a really good race. He kept me there when I tried to ride my horse in between horses, he was a little intimidated. When Mike passed us and I pulled to the outside, that's when he started running."
"Fly Down ran great," trainer Nick Zito agreed. "Obviously I'm disappointed about Ice Box. He didn't deal with the heat well today. The Pulpit came out in him a little bit today. We'll have to regroup and see what happens."
Following the top five under the wire were Stay Put (Broken Vow), Interactif, Stately Victor (Ghostzapper), Kentucky Derby second and 9-5 Belmont favorite Ice Box (Pulpit), Make Music for Me (Bernstein), Dave in Dixie (Dixie Union) and Spangled Star (Distorted Humor).
Despite finishing fifth, Uptowncharlybrown was disqualified and placed last after it was discovered he had lost his eight-pound lead pad on the backstretch.
Bred by Aaron and Marie Jones in Kentucky, Drosselmeyer sold for $600,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. That was the exact amount the chestnut was awarded for his Belmont win, boosting his career earnings to $801,170 and improving his lifetime mark to 9-3-3-2.
Drosselmeyer began his racing career at Saratoga last year, finishing third in a turf maiden, before traveling to Belmont and Keeneland to fill the runner-up spot in his next two tries against maiden special weight rivals on turf and Polytrack, respectively. Finally given his shot on a dirt track, the chestnut concluded his juvenile campaign with a dominating six-length score in an off-the-turf maiden at Churchill Downs.
Mott kept Drosselmeyer on the dirt after that, saddling his charge to an allowance win at Gulfstream Park on January 31 and then sending him to New Orleans to face stakes competition for the first time. The three-year-old ran well in his stakes bow, finishing fourth by just two lengths in the Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds, and cut that margin to just one length when third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) next out. Drosselmeyer didn't have enough earnings to make the Kentucky Derby and could offer no challenge to Fly Down in the Dwyer S. (G2) when blocked at the three-eighths pole, but turned the tables on his rival with this victory.
"It was actually Elliot's idea to go to the Dwyer," Mott admitted. "We thought about wheeling back into either the Arkansas Derby (G1) or Blue Grass (G1), but he just said we should stick with our original plan. I got a little nervous when he ran in the Dwyer and looked like he needed some racing, but it turned out to be a good plan."
Drosselmeyer is out of the Moscow Ballet mare Golden Ballet, who captured six stakes during her racing career including the 2001 editions of the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), Las Virgenes S. (G1), Santa Ynez S. (G2) and Railbird S. (G2). Golden Ballet has also produced Stage Luck (Unbridled's Song), winner of the 2008 Affectionately H. and third in that year's Ruffian H. (G1), as well as an unnamed juvenile colt by Forestry.
Drosselmeyer's fourth dam is stakes heroine Sun Lover (Nasomo), who is responsible for Grade 2-winning sire Hawkin's Special (Great Sun) and Grade 3-scoring stallion Chati (Terrible Tiger).