Therapist stays unbeaten with Awad win

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Oak Bluff Stables homebred Therapist (Freud) psyched out the competition once again in Belmont’s Saturday nightcap, the $100,000 Awad Stakes for juveniles at a mile on the Widener turf. The victory drove the chestnut colt’s record to a perfect three-for-three, and took his earnings to $157,200.

Therapist has done nothing wrong in his young career. Following a debut win in a turf sprint for state-breds at Belmont Park on July 2, the colt dove straight into open company stakes competition. In the 6-furlong Laurel Futurity on September 16, Therapist surged dramatically in the final strides to win by a head, even after breaking through the gate before the start.

After horseplayers weighed the colt’s assets and liabilities, they bet him down to the 4-1 second choice from his 8-1 morning line.

On the plus side, Therapist had an advantageous draw (post two of 10), an unbeaten record, powerful late kick and open stakes success. On the other hand, he was stretching out from six furlongs to a mile for the first time, his top Beyer Speed Figure of 64 came up a little light compared to the competition and his pilot, Irad Ortiz, Jr., was his third jockey in as many starts.

Therapist settled in fourth after an alert break, four lengths off the lead and pinned down in the two path, where he remained from gate-to-wire. Meanwhile, while fellow New York-bred Looking Ready (13-1) led the way through opening splits of 23.16 and 46.90.

Following six furlongs in 1:10.83, and keeping Looking Ready directly in his sights four lengths ahead, Therapist advanced a spot in the turn, but made little headway on his rival in upper stretch.

At the furlong marker Looking Ready drifted out, and Therapist wasted no time in taking full advantage of the opportunity. Kicking into another gear in the final seventy yards, he gained the lead on the inside and opened up to a one-length victory in a final time of 1:35.41.

V.I.P. Code, the longest shot on the board at 71-1, rallied from the rear of the field to finish second, a nose ahead of Looking Ready in third, who kept a neck in front fourth-place finisher New York-bred Way Early (6-1). [VIDEO REPLAY]

“I was in great position,” said Irad Ortiz, Jr. “I got the two hole, we broke good, saved some ground by staying on the inside. I wished I could have worked a way to get to the outside [in the stretch], but the rail opened and I got through, and he responded really well.”

The pilot continued, “He is 3-for-3, but it is my first time riding. [Trainer] Christophe [Clement] gave me the chance and he is a nice horse. He is a nice New York bred.”

Clement, who has raced Therapist Lasix-from in all three starts and is co-breeder with Oak Bluff, was very pleased with Therapist’s first route try. “It was a great race to stretch him out because it’s a one-turn mile. He got up very strong, so I guess he can get the distance.”

Added Clement, “He’s been great. He’s a nice horse. He’s unbeaten. He’s also a New York-bred, but he can obviously compete in open company.” He said he would consult with the owners about whether to keep going with Therapist or give him a break.

Foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Therapist is one of two winners, and the first stakes winner, out of Lady Renaissance, a winning Kentucky-bred daughter of Sharp Strike who was purchased by Oak Bluff Stables for $15,000 at the 2009 Keeneland November sale.

Lady Renaissance’s first winner is Gio’s Lady (Gio Ponti), a sophomore who has won twice in California. She has produced a weanling full sister to Therapist and was bred this year to Temple City.

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