Favorite Diversify collects first stakes win in Saginaw

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Pounded down to 4-5 odds at the betting windows, Diversify gratified his many backers with a confident stalking victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Saginaw Stakes for older New York-breds, run at 1 1/16 miles around one turn at Belmont Park. The Saginaw score was the talented Bellamy Road gelding’s first stakes win for trainer Rick Violette and owners Lauren Evans and Ralph M. Evans.

Restive before the break, Diversify got right down to business after the bell, grabbing a spot at the rail in second behind pacesetter Fox Rules, who had crossed over from his outside post to assume the lead.

Midway along the backstretch Diversify switched out to the two path, to stalk Fox Rules at his off-side flank, and edged closer as the field entered the turn.

Asked for a little more around the three-eighths marker, Diversify answered by drawing even with Fox Rules and taking over at the head of the stretch. He proceeded to draw off steadily and crossed the wire a 2 3/4-length winner.

Papa Shot and, another half-length back, Gypsum Johnny on the grandstand side outfinished Fox Rules who had to settle for fourth. Hit It Once More, never involved, finished fifth. Samraat, returning to the races following a 10-month layoff, broke through the gate before the race and was difficult to load before his sixth-place finish. Inside Straight refused to leave the starting gate.

Following solid early splits of 23.12, 45.83 and 1:10.08, Diversify completed a mile in 1:36.80, and stopped the clock after 1 1/16 miles on the fast track at 1:43.76. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Winning rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., said, “[Diversify]’s a nice New York bred and against this company, he can do it. It worked out good. The trainer [Rick Violette] had him ready and he was there for me. I tried to relax him and he was going comfortably. Once he was in the clear, I let him do his thing. He kept going. He’s the type of horse where it doesn’t look like he’s running, but he is. He’s a fighter.”

“I thought it was a pretty cool race,” said Violette. “Once again, [Diversify] allowed the rider to ride him. [Irad] took a hold of him and let the speed show in front of him. He tipped him outside and then settled. Irad thought he might’ve moved a little early, but he didn’t want to give everyone behind him a break, either.”

Continued Violette, addressing strategy, given the amount of speed signed on for the race, “We needed to try [rating]. It helps so much even when there’s nuisance speed in the race, if you don’t have to be on the lead and have that pressure. It makes him a really, really nice horse We might even experiment on the grass.”

Violette, who also trains multiple graded stakes winner Samraat, commented on his charge’s return to the races. “I honestly hoped they’d scratch him. When they were all messing around, it looked like the horse on the outside of him crossed over and actually stepped on him [from] behind. There’s a cut in the middle of his foot that you wouldn’t get any other way, and that’s when he bolted through the doors.

“Then he was so bad getting in, and that’s never a problem. He’s always been perfect at the gate. As long as he’s all right, we were going to need the race anyway. If he cools out all right, then we’ll be fine.”

Bred by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding and foaled at Majestic View Farms in Gardiner, Diversify first graduated from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred preferred yearling sale, where he fetched $150,000 from Maverick racing. Unraced at two, he opened his account last year with four straight victories all in routes for Violette.

Following a July 14 debut victory and September 22 allowance win for WinStar Farm LLC, for which he was tabbed a TDN “Rising Star,” Diversify was purchased by Lauren and Ralph Evans as a racing prospect at Keeneland November for $210,000 and opted to stay with Violette.

Diversify won two more races for the Evanses in December and January and in his race prior to the Saginaw, finished second by a nose to Weekend Hideaway in the Commentator Stakes on May 29.

With five wins and two seconds from eight starts, Diversify has bankrolled $265,425.

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