Therapist returns at four to win Elusive Quality

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

By Sarah Mace

Returning from his winter vacation at Payson Park where he underwent a personal makeover – being gelded – Therapist returned to the races a winner Saturday at Belmont Park. The chestnut son of Freud, looking fit and svelte after his break, managed to overcome traffic trouble in upper stretch and get up in time to win $125,000 Elusive Quality for 4-year-olds and up going seven furlongs over the Widener turf course.

Bred by Richard Leahy’s Oak Bluff Stables, who co-campaigns Therapist with trainer Christophe Clement, the 4-year-old was looking for his sixth stakes victory while preserving a perfect three-for-three in turf sprints on the Belmont green. He was also looking for a turnaround in form after tailing off last fall.

After Therapist won the open Cutler Bay and two divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes Series in 2018 – the Spectacular Bid at Belmont and Cab Calloway at Saratoga – he stretched out to two-turn races for his final two starts of the year. He finished a well-beaten seventh in the Grade 3 Saranac and third in the Tropical Park Derby on December 29. The turnback in distance in the Elusive Quality to kick off this year’s campaign would prove to be right up his alley. One question mark, the “yielding” condition of the Widener Turf, ultimately posed no challenge.

Breaking cleanly as the co-second betting choice at odds of 5-2 under Eric Cancel, Therapist settled at the rear of the six-horse field, six lengths off the pace set by frontrunner Fixed Point, who led the group through an opening quarter in 23.46 and half in 47.60 while being chased by odds-on favorite Big Handsome and Abiding Star.

Approaching the far turn Therapist picked up his tempo, while Abiding Star and Big Handsome began to gang up on Fixed Point.

Cutting the corner, Therapist got mired down inside in traffic at the head of the stretch and was forced check. The agile runner came out a path and advanced between horses into third tracking English import Emmaus, now second behind Big Handsome. He angled out one more path in the final furlong.

Therapist found another gear in deep stretch. He swept past his last two rivals in the final strides to win by a neck, stopping the clock after seven furlongs over the “yielding” turf course at 1:24.75. Big Handsome finished 1 1/2 lengths back in third. More than 10 lengths back Abiding Star, V.I.P. Code and Fixed Point completed the order of finish. [VIDEO]

“I tried to follow Jose [Ortiz, aboard Emmaus],” explained jockey Eric Cancel. “I saw that he was the horse that I needed to beat. It looked like he was in a perfect spot, and I just tried to follow him. The trip worked out well. Once he found the hole by the quarter pole, I just followed him in. From there on, my horse did the job.”

A jolly Christophe Clement said, “He’s a fun horse and he tries very hard. He had a great finish. He’s owned by Dick Leahy of Oak Bluff Stable, who also bred the horse, and has always been a pleasure to train for. We waited all winter long to run him back. He ran a very good race today and I’m happy.”

Team Therapist is pointing next to the Kingston Stakes on Belmont’s May 27 Showcase card on Memorial Day.

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

Lady Renaissance has produced a juvenile full sister to Therapist, and a yearling colt by Temple City. At the 2018 Keeneland January sale she was purchased by Dennis Yokum for $52,000. The only time Therapist was offered at public auction, fortunately for his connections, he left the grounds as a $8,000 buyback. From seven wins and two thirds in 11 starts, Therapist has earned $441,550.

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