T Loves a Fight gamely wins the decision in the Mike Lee Stakes

Monday, May 29th, 2017
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Bill Heller

Speaking in the paddock before the 38th running of the seven furlong $125,000 Mike Lee Stake for three-year-old New York-breds on a sloppy track at Belmont Park on Big Apple Showcase Day, Monday, Memorial Day, trainer Mike Hushion and jockey Kendrick Carmouche discussed strategy for Hoffman Thoroughbreds’ improving gelding T Loves a Fight, a proven closer.

T Loves a Fight had won on a good track impressively, but never raced on a truly sloppy surface which usually favors early speed. “I was concerned about the way the front end had been so strong today, and knowing he was going to have to come from off the pace” Hushion said.

Regardless, he told Carmouche to ride him the way he had from off the pace in his last six starts. “I talked to Mr. Hushion in the paddock and we weren’t going to change anything because of the track surface,” Carmouche said.

Good decision.

Splitting horses in deep stretch, T Loves a Fight, sent off the 9-5 second choice in the field of six on the rail, rallied past front-running and even-money favorite Syndergaard and John Velazquez to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:25.06.

Syndergaard, who was very game after putting away repeated early changes, held on for second, 4 1/2 lengths ahead of 17-1 Pat On the Back and Dylan Davis in third. Sal the Turtle, who was 6-1 under Rajiv Maragh, finished fourth, 3 1/4 lengths behind Pat On the Back.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

T Loves a Fight is a son of Girolamo out of Worth Fighting For by Broken Vow who made his stakes debut in his previous start when he finished second in a $100,000 division of the New York-bred Stallion Stakes April 23rd.

Monday’s sloppy track led to four scratches from the original field of 10, none more significant than Bobby On Fleek, who was expected to be the second favorite. Bettors made Syndergaard, who was making his second start of the year, the favorite and T Loves a Fight the strong second choice.

Syndergaard, named for the New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, and Sal the Turtle hooked up immediately on the front end as T Loves a Fight got away last. Syndergaard led Sal the Turtle by a half-length through a first quarter in :22.95 and a half-mile in :46.36. When Syndergaard put away Sal the Turtle, he was immediately confronted by Pat On the Back, who had been a close third. By then, T Loves a Fight was third and gaining.

T Loves a Fight split Syndergaard and Pat On the Back, and drew away to an impressive victory.

“I love T Loves a Fight,” Carmouche said. “He lives up to his name.”

Hushion points out that T Loves a Fight’s owner calls him a blue collar horse. “He gets out there and fights,” Hushion said.

T Loves a Fight is now four-for-nine on dirt with three seconds and earnings of more than $200,000.

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