Following a brief downpour late Thursday afternoon while the horses were being saddled for this year’s renewal of Saratoga’s $150,000 West Point presented by Trustco Bank, a double rainbow shone on Lubash (Freud) in the Saratoga winner’s circle after he snapped a ten-race winless streak with an eye-catching last-to-first effort for trainer Christophe Clement.
Making his third start for the Clement barn, Aliyu Ben J Stable’s Lubash has already been knocking on the door this year, running a close-up second in the Kingston on May 27 at Belmont to New York turf champion Compliance Officer, who was defending his West Point title on Thursday, and in his prior start, finishing only 1 3/4 lengths behind Get Serious in a lightning fast edition of the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth Park.
After the break, the speedy Johannesburg Smile set up shop on the front end, tracked by Street Game at his flank, while odds-on favorite Compliance Officer raced in fourth two lengths off the lead with Abilio just to his inside. Meanwhile Lubash (7-2) bided his time at the rear of the seven-horse field under Jose Lezcano, six or seven lengths off the lead.
Still in last place going into the far turn, Lubash begin his rally going three wide and, after the field straightened away for home, swept dramatically to the lead in the four path. He was home clear by the furlong marker but kept to his task for the 1 3/4-length score. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf after moderate early fractions (24.40, 48.57) was 1:43.61.
Minnie Punt (17-1) rallied from fifth to pick up the place, getting a head in front of Compliance Officer, who never raced better than third. Majestic Raffy and Street Game finished just behind the first three, with Abilio and pacesetter Johannesburg Smile completing the order of finish.
Winning jockey Jose Lezcano said, “As soon as I picked it up from the break, he settled down pretty good. After that, I waited a little bit to make my move. I had plenty of horse in the last five-sixteenths. I decided to make my move. He gave me an unbelievable kick today. When I asked him, he really accelerated. He has improved a lot.”
Christophe Clement said, “I’m a very lucky man. [Owner Leonard Pivnick of Aliyu Ben J Stable, Inc.] sent me a very nice horse in the spring, and he keeps getting better. Jose took him back, we got some rain before the race, and they obviously went a little too quick early on. He won well. He’s getting better through the year; he’s a very nice horse.”
Javier Castellano, aboard Compliance Officer, felt that the last-minute rainstorm compromised his mount’s chances. “I don’t think the ground was in his best favor today. Unfortunately, all the rain five minutes before the race made it soft, and I just don’t think my horse liked it much. He had a great position during the race, but with those kind of turf horses when you get riding them they spin their wheels. Unfortunately today wasn’t the best ground for him.”
Compliance Officer’s trainer Bruce Brown said, “He ran his race. Lubash coming to the quarter pole got the jump on us. Lezcano rode a good race to get the jump on him. By the time our horse leveled off in the stretch, he had an advantage on us. Javier said he didn’t like the downpour, but I can’t fault the ride or the performance. We just got beat today.”
Lubash, a 5-year-old chestnut son of New York sire Freud whom Clement has begun running without blinkers, last visited the winner’s circle in November 2010 for former trainer James Ryerson, when he took the open Monarch’s Maze for his third stakes victory, defeating none other than Little Mike, subsequent winner of the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes and a contender in this weekend’s Grade 1 Arlington Million.
Winner also of the Cab Calloway Division of the New York Stallion Stakes series and open Fifth Marine Stakes in 2010, Lubash has been a consistent turf performer for both trainers, with career record of 6-3-2 from 21 starts and $386,629.
Bred by Aliyuee Ben J Stable, Inc. and foaled at Carapan Farm, Lubash is out of the stakes-placed Cure the Blues mare Nasty Cure ($153,122). She has produced five multiple winners of six foals to race, including stakes-placed New York-bred Netcong (by Meadow Flight), also bred by Aliyuee Ben J Stable, Inc., who started 87 times and earned $327,924. In all, the progeny of Nasty Cure have earned over $1 million.
Lubash is the third stakes winner this year for his sire Freud (Sequel Stallions New York), top New York turf sire and currently third overall in the state stallion rankings. Lubash joins Freud’s Irish Linnet heroine Hessonite, who will line up in tomorrow’s Yaddo, and Mr. Vegas, winner of the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds earlier this year.