Gucci Factor noses Voodoo Song in a terrific Mohawk Stakes

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Bill Heller

Castleton Lyons’ six-year-old gelding Gucci Factor, who didn’t get a fair start in his previous race, and Barry Schwartz’s five-year-old home-bred Voodoo Song, who had struggled to regain his outstanding form from a year ago, staged an epic stretch battle in the mile-and-a-sixteenth $200,000 Mohawk Stakes Saturday afternoon with Gucci Factor and Joel Rosario nailing front-running Voodoo Song and Jose Lezcano in the final stride for a nose victory in the grass stakes, one of eight for New York-breds on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park.

Gucci Factor was 9-5 and Voodoo Song the slight 8-5 favorite in the accomplished field of five. All five had more than $270,000 in career earnings.

The gray Hoboe, who was 22-1 under Manny Franco, finished third, a length and a quarter behind Voodoo Song while a nose in front of 3-1 Offering Plan, who won last year’s Mohawk by six lengths, and Javier Castellano.

Highclere-bred Gucci Factor, a son of Gio Ponti out of Shoo In by Dynaformer, is trained by Christophe Clement. Gucci Factor had won three consecutive starts heading into the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes on Sept. 22. Sent off the 8-5 favorite under Rosario, Gucci Factor never had a chance. He was moving around and being adjusted by an assistant starter when the gate opened. His slow start left him 13 lengths off the pace early in the stakes, and he did well to rally for sixth, 3 1/2 lengths behind winner Dot Matrix, who went off at 7-2 in the Mohawk Saturday and finished last in the five-horse field.

NYRA/Elsa Lorieul

Voodoo Song, meanwhile, seemed to finally be back on his game after winning the Grade 1 Fourstardave Stakes at Saratoga in 2018. He finished fifth, 12th, eighth and seventh in his next four starts before running a much-improved second by a half-length to Dot Matrix in the Ashley T. Cole.

In the Mohawk, Voodoo Song zipped to the lead like he usually does, while Gucci Factor followed a normal start by getting away fourth.

Dot Matrix tried to put pressure on Voodoo Song, who led by a length to a length and a half through an opening quarter-mile in :22.96, a half-mile in :46.14 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:09.40.

When Dot Matrix tired, Gucci Factor rallied into second, and he quickly cut into Voodoo Song’s length-and-a-half cushion. Gucci Factor drew within a neck of Voodoo Song inside the sixteenth pole and inched closer with every stride as Voodoo Song dug in and gamely gave every ounce of energy he had left.

In a thrilling finish, Gucci Factor pushed a nose ahead in the final strides before the wire. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“It was a fun race to watch,” Clement said. “I thought Voodoo Song was very game in defeat. Both horses were very game. I’m grateful to Joel. It was a remarkable ride and it made the difference. Joel knows that horse well and believes in him and it works.”

Gucci Factor, who has now won six of his last eight starts, improved his outstanding grass record to seven-for-10 with one third. That includes five victories and a third in eight starts at Belmont Park. Gucci Factor also has one win, one second and one third from six dirt starts for total earnings of more than $550,000.

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