By Sarah Mace
Trainer Phil Serpe had Red and Black Stable’s Weekend Hideaway (Speightstown) in winning form after a 4 1/2-month vacation: on Belmont Park’s opening-day Friday the six-year-old scored an authoritative victory over seven rivals to take the six furlong, $100,000 Affirmed Success Stakes. The win was the veteran’s ninth career victory and sixth stakes score.
Fourth choice in the betting at odds of 5-1, Weekend Hideaway got out of the gate first from post two, but then let longshot Little Popsie and others go on with it through a blazing early fractions of 22.32 and 45.14, while he cruised along at the rail a length back in fourth.
Angled out one path at the top of the stretch by jockey Luis Saez, Weekend Hideaway rallied toward the front between horses, took over with a little more than a furlong to go and edged ahead to a confident 2 1/4-length victory. He stopped the clock in 1:10.30.
Favored Loki’s Vengeance, winner of last year’s Affirmed Success, finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Drama King. Following them in order across the finish line were Ostrolenka, Little Popsie, Between the Lines, Eye Luv Lulu and Bond Vigilante. [VIDEO]
Saez said, “We had a good break and I thought we’d get to the lead but I waited and sat on the rail. I had plenty of horse and at the quarter-pole was able to get through and up to the wire. He’s a good horse and tries all the time. He’s a nice horse.”
Phil Serpe added “[Weekend Hideaway] always steps up and runs a big race for us during the year. He ran a huge, huge race before his last race [of 2015]. I guess he went a little backwards off that race.” In his penultimate start of last year, a five-furlong dash at Gulfstream Park West, Weekend Hideaway romped by more than six lengths. He tired to last next out in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream.
Serpe continued, “He hadn’t been away from the track in two years, and it was in our plans to send him away for a while. We sent him to South Carolina to freshen him up, and he came back really well today. He just needed a little vacation.”
If all is in order after this race, Serpe said he would consider the Commentator for Weekend Hideaway’s next start on Big Apple Showcase Day May 30.
From nine wins, four seconds and four thirds Weekend Hideaway has earned $631,532. His most impressive performance came in January 2015, when he dominated the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream, completing six furlongs in 1:08.64 for a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. His stakes victories include wins in the Bertram Bongard and David Stakes at two, the Gone Fishin on the Belmont turf in 2013 and the John Morrissey at Saratoga in 2014.
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 is the first foal and only winner out of New York-bred Apocalyptical, an unplaced New York-bred daughter of Wiseman’s Ferry. 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.