Diversify dazzles in Grade 2 Suburban

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

NYRA/Susie Raisher

By Sarah Mace

Up until now Diversify’s career-defining race was his front-running, one-length victory in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup last fall. Ralph M. and Lauren Evans’ 5-year old gelded son of Bellamy Road arguably eclipsed that achievement at Belmont’s Stars and Stripes Racing Festival Saturday. With a tour de force performance, Diversify utterly demolished a stellar field in the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban Handicap. Fittingly, the victory also made him a millionaire.

Diversify had a bit of rocky start this year – an unfortunate seasonal bow in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic when he finished last as the heavy favorite. When trainer Rick Violette found that nothing was physically amiss, the conditioner had to conclude that the gelding was too smart for his own good. Diversify apparently decided that the 3-turn race was over after the second turn and pulled himself up.

Next out, Diversify returned to state-bred company after a trio of graded races and thoroughly redeemed himself. He earned a very game nose victory over Pat On the Back in the Commentator Stakes after stumbling at the start. Still, not all were convinced that Diversify could succeed on Saturday against the likes of Tapwrit, Hoppertunity, War Story and the rest of the 10-horse Suburban field. Bettors sent him off as their fifth choice at odds of 6-1.

Diversify (#10) bee-lines to the lead after the break (NYRA/Amira Chichakly)

Diversify signaled that he was coming into the 1 1/4-mile contest in sharp form, firing a best-of-67, 4-furlong bullet on June 30 in :46 4/5. Violette said after the work, “It was maybe a shade faster than we wanted, but things aren’t always perfect. He just showed he’s ready, that’s all. He likes to breeze fast, so he was showing off.”

At the bell Irad Ortiz, Jr sent Diversify in a bee-line toward the front. The bay obliged, ears pinned with intent, and the pair never looked back.

Lightly pressed early on by War Story and longshot Zanotti, Diversify wasn’t having any of it. He threw down fast fraction after fast fraction, improving steadily on an initial one-length lead over an increasingly strung-out field. None of his rivals was able to draw within striking distance early, or ever.

Diversify’s 23.46 quarter morphed into a 46.18 half and 1:09.65 three-quarters, and his lead increased to two lengths. With the mile gone in 1:34 flat, Diversify led by 3 1/2 lengths.

In the stretch, Diversify just continued to pour it on. All by himself with a five-length lead at the furlong pole, he ultimately crossed the finish line a 6 1/2-length winner in a dazzling final time of 1:59.84.

Finishing second was The Lieutenant, sent off at 34-1 (despite being a half-brother to Triple Crown winner Justify). Fellow longshot Discreet Lover was third and Hoppertunity completed the superfecta, followed across the line by 2017 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“My plan was to break and go,” said Irad Ortiz, Jr. “I broke good, I sent him, and he took me the whole way. He was traveling perfect. I just went from there and started moving and he responded very well. He went fast, and he gave me another gear at the quarter pole.”

Violette added, “We were meant to be aggressive and Irad told me when he realized it was Zanotti and War Story [not speedy West Coast invader Dr. Dorr, as anticipated], he kind of just stepped on the gas. He did it pretty comfortably.”

NYRA/Coglianese Photo

Violette concurs that Diversify’s performance Saturday was a career best. “I think this is his best race ever. He beat some nice horses, withstood some serious pressure, fast fractions and he obviously loves Belmont.”

Diversify has won six of eight tries over Big Sandy and has never finished out of the exacta there. The Suburban is his fifth stakes victory overall along with the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Commentator Stakes, Saginaw Stakes and Evan Shipman.

From a career record of nine wins and two seconds from 14 starts he has earned $1,309,425, making him the third New York-bred to cross the seven-figure earnings threshold in recent weeks. Fourstar Crook and Disco Partner achieved the goal during the Festival of Racing weekend at Belmont.

Bred by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding and foaled at Majestic View Farms in Gardiner, Diversify is one of two winners out of Rule One, a placed daughter of Street Cry (IRE), whom Hertrich bought at the 2010 Keeneland November sale for $57,000. On February 16 of this year Rule One foaled a colt by More Than Ready.

Diversify’s sire Bellamy Road stands at Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions in Stillwater.

At the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred preferred yearling sale, Diversify sold to Maverick Racing for $150,000. Unraced at two, Diversify flashed talent as soon as he got to the racetrack, opening his account in 2016 with four straight front-running route victories and earning a “TDN Rising Star” designation after September 22 allowance win for WinStar Farm LLC.

Offered as a racing prospect at the 2016 Keeneland November sale, Diversify was purchased by Lauren and Ralph Evans for $210,000. The couple opted to stay with Diversify’s original trainer Violette.





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