Weekend Hideaway turns millionaire in thrilling Commentator title defense

Monday, May 29th, 2017
NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

In trainer Phil Serpe’s eyes, Red and Black Stable’s accomplished Weekend Hideaway (Speightstown) wasn’t getting the respect he deserved when sent off at odds of 6-1 to defend his title in the $200,000 Commentator Stakes on Belmont’s Memorial Day Showcase card. “To tell you the truth, I think he got a little Rodney Dangerfield here,” said Serpe.

Serpe got the last laugh, however, when Weekend Hideaway led the deep and salty 9-horse Commentator field from the bell and gave his all in the final sixteenth to hold off Diversify and prevail in a close photo finish. A twelfth career win and eighth stakes score took the 7-year-old horse’s earnings into seven-figure territory to make him racing’s newest millionaire.

Breaking from post six, Weekend Hideaway was gunned to the front by rider Luis Saez, and cruised along the backstretch a measured length in front of 22-1 Hit It Once More, who was destined to fade from contention, and 2-1 favorite Diversify, who was eager and proceeded under a hold.

As the field rounded the bend after early splits of 23.04 and 46.04, Weekend Hideaway still held sway by a length, but Diversify kept to the task of determined pursuit. After six furlongs in 1:10.57 over the sloppy (sealed) going, Weekend Hideaway began to tire and Diversify, who switched inside for last push, posed a serious threat late. Weekend Hideaway kept on digging gamely to win by a matter of inches. The final time for the mile was 1:37.34.

The other placings, 2 1/4 lengths length back, were also a squeaker. Governor Malibu (5-2) closed from way back and, despite having to alter course twice in late stretch, managed to get a short nose in front of Gypsum Johnny (15-1) who was in the hunt throughout.

Completing the order of finish were Royal Posse, Empire Dreams, Eye Luv Lulu, Hit it Once More and Loki’s Vengeance. Bellamy Way and Celtic Chaos were scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Luis Saez suffered some tense moments awaiting the results of the photo. “I had a feeling that we had won the race, but we came back and saw it wasn’t official,” said Saez. “That was a little scary, anything can happen, but I had a little feeling that we got there. He ran so hard. When we came to the stretch, he was giving me everything. When I saw the other horse [Diversify], I thought he was going to get me, but we were still there. He was really trying.”

Saez, who has been Weekend Hideaway’s regular rider since August 2015, added, “I think I know him a lot. He loves a wet track and he loves the speed, too. Just break and let him run, leave him alone and he’s happy.”

“You have to love a horse like this,” said Serpe. “He always gives you his best effort. He loves the muddy track and he loves Belmont, so we’re very happy.” From eight starts over off-going, Weekend Hideaway has five wins, a second and third.

Continued Serpe, “We do right by our horses and if he needs a little break, he tells us. We gave him a little bit of time off and he came back great for us. He looked great today. He came into the race in good shape. In his last race, the Affirmed Success [on April 28, when he finished fourth], he broke from the extreme outside and broke flat-footed, which he’s done once or twice. It was not his day. Today worked out better for us.”

Serpe wrapped up with, “He’s got speed and has real speed in the slop. He does cherish the wet track. To tell you the truth, I think he got a little Rodney Dangerfield here. People weren’t respecting him because he didn’t come back winning. I think they will in the next one.”

From 12 wins, five seconds and six thirds in 38 starts, Weekend Hideaway has earned $1,004,632. His career best Beyer Speed Figure of 107 came in January 2015, when he dominated the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream, completing six furlongs in 1:08.64. He has won at least one stakes race every year since his 2012 juvenile campaign, owns Grade 1 and Grade 3 placings and has even won a turf sprint stakes in one of three career starts on the grass.

Bred by the late Carl Lizza’s Flying Zee Stables, for whom Serpe was a long-time trainer, and foaled at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, Weekend Hideaway was purchased by Michael Hoffman’s Red and Black Stable for $40,000 in the yearling portion of the Flying Zee Dispersal in October 2011.

He is one of only two foals (both winners) out of New York-bred Apocalyptical, an unplaced New York-bred daughter of Wiseman’s Ferry.

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