By Sarah Mace
Paul Pompa Jr.’s Send It In (Big Brown) became the second New York-bred homebred to win a graded stakes race on Wood Memorial Day at Aqueduct Racetrack when he rallied to victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior Stakes at 1 1/4 miles. Two races earlier Alpha Delta Stables’ Long Haul Bay notched an impressive win in the Bay Shore Stakes.
Like all but one member of the Excelsior field, Send It In was previously untested at 10 furlongs, but his strong form and consistency inspired the betting public to send him off as the even-money favorite under jockey John Velazquez. In 12 starts since breaking his maiden at Saratoga on August 5, 2015, the Todd Pletcher-trained gelding had finished out of the money only once, and won seven races, including back-to-back scores in the Alex M. Robb on New Year’s Eve and Haynesfield on February 11. In his most recent outing on March 12, he recovered from a stumbling break to finish a strong third in the Stymie at 1 1/8 miles.
After the break, Chilean import Tu Brutus threw down the gauntlet under Irad Ortiz Jr., gunning straight for the front in his first North American race and opening up daylight on his rivals. Send It In raced in third behind the pacesetter and fellow New York-bred Bellamy Way for an opening half mile (47.20), but never trailed the leader by more than three lengths. Once Send It In advanced into second after six furlongs, the Excelsior became a match race.
Velazquez asked Send It In for more rounding the far turn, and for the length of the stretch, the gelding whittled away at the leader’s margin. Still grinding away in earnest with a sixteenth to go, Send It In got by his rival in the last seventy yards, edging away for the half-length win. Doyouknowsomething finished 14 lengths back in third. After a mile in 1:36.25, the final time for 10 panels was 2:02.07. [VIDEO REPLAY]
Said Velazquez, “We broke well, better than [in the Stymie] and we got a nice position going into that first turn. Down the backstretch, I got the position that I wanted. I didn’t want to leave [Tu Brutus] too far in front and give my horse too much to make up, so I got busy on him at the three-eighths pole. Once he got into the lane he had a nice kick. That kick was very good. It was just what I needed then.”
“I thought Johnny [Velazquez] did a great job,” said Todd Pletcher’s assistant Byron Hughes. “This time he broke a little better and Johnny got him into a good position going down the backside and from there he ran down [Tu Brutus], who also ran a big race.”
Continued Hughes, “[Send It In] really dug in and fought hard for the win. He switched leads and he kept fighting, kept fighting, and he got up just in time. It’s not easy to chase lone speed like that. The second place horse was out there all by himself and he put up decent fractions but nothing grueling, so it was nice to see Send It In and keep fighting and get up for the win. We’ve had him here all winter and he’s been a barn favorite and he’s a lot of fun to train.”
Foaled at Vivien Malloy’s Edition Farm in Hyde Park, Send It In is a special horse for owner/breeder Paul Pompa, Jr. His sire is dual classic winner and 3-year-old champion Big Brown, whom Pompa campaigned in partnership with IEAH Stables, and he is the first foal out of Sharp Instinct, a multiple winner by Awesome Again, whom Pompa purchased as a Keeneland September yearling in 2008 for $275,000. Big Brown now stands for Sunrise Stallions at Dutchess Views Farm in Pine Plains. Sharp instinct has produced two full siblings to Send It In who are winners .
Said Pompa, “He’s a beautiful homebred,” said Pompa. “He wanted it today and he’s a grinder. It’s very nice to have a New York-bred who is now a Grade 3 winner. He’s by the horse I had who won the Kentucky Derby, Big Brown. I used some of my breeding rights to Big Brown and I got this horse. I bought Sharp Instinct as a yearling filly, so it’s really very nice to win with this horse.”
Continued Pompa, “This is the second time he’s chased down the loose speed and he just wants to win. One day it’s going to be a little easier for him because somebody’s going to go with the loose speed. That’s what we were hoping for today, but everybody took back.”
Send It In has compiled a record of nine wins, three seconds and three thirds from 17 starts. With the winner’s share of the Excelsior purse, his earnings bankroll stands at over a half-million dollars ($500,914).