by Bill Heller
Two New York-bred turf titans, Aliyu Ben J Stables’ eight-year-old home-bred Lubash and Paul Braverman and Timothy Pinch’s six-year-old gelding Kharafa, put on a spectacular show in the 37th running of the mile-and-a-sixteenth $200,000 Mohawk Stakes Saturday on Showcase Day at Belmont Park. Junior Alvarado got Lubash, the 7-2 second choice in the field of nine, up by a head over Kharafa, the even-money favorite ridden by Javier Castellano, in a course record 1:39.08.
“It’s fun, these two horses,” Lubash’s trainer, Christophe Clement, said. “He (Kharafa) is tough to catch, but it worked out. Sometimes you get lucky. We’ve been second three times (in this stakes), but it was our time to win it.”
Lubash is all about winning. He’s now nine-for-24 at Belmont. He had won three straight stakes this year before tiring to fourth behind Kharafa in the Ashley T. Cole Stakes at a mile-and-an-eighth on Sept. 20th. Lubash had beaten Kharafa in two of their previous three meetings.
Neither Lubash nor Kharafa were near an intense pace duel Saturday as 13-1 Notacatbutallama and 11-1 Orino battled through an opening quarter in 22.91 and a testing half-mile of 45.76. Then Irad Ortiz sent 20-1 With Exultation up three-wide to join them. After three-quarters in 1:09.15, With Exultation took the lead, but Kharafa and Lubash had dead aim and came at him quickly on the outside.
Kharafa had first shot at With Exultation and went by him to take a clear lead as Lubash began to confront him at the sixteenth pole. They separated themselves and fought it out to the wire with Lubash inching clear late.
Iron Power rallied to finish third at 8-1, 3 1/4 lengths behind Kharafa. With Exultation was just a neck behind Iron Power fin fourth. [VIDEO]
Lubash is now 15-for-42 on turf with nine seconds and five thirds. He also has a win from three dirt starts for total earnings of more than $1,350,000.