Brooklyn Strong draws rail in Pegasus

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Champion New York-bred Brooklyn Strong runs next in Sunday’s $150,000 Pegasus at Monmouth Park. NYRA Photo.

By Paul Halloran

Mark Schwartz and Danny Velazquez considered returning Brooklyn Strong to the allowance ranks after the colt ran fifth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial and 15th in the Kentucky Derby, but when the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Sunday came up light – with one notable exception – they decided to enter the New York-bred in the $150,000 stakes.

Brooklyn Strong drew the rail in the five-horse field, which is headlined by Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun, who could become the declared winner any day now after Medina Spirit is presumably disqualified for a failed drug test.

“Danny says he’s ready, so we’re going,” said Schwartz. “We wouldn’t be putting him in if Danny didn’t think he was ready.”

Schwartz and Velazquez also had hoped to run Brooklyn Strong, a 3-year-old gelding by Wicked Strong out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic, in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes last Saturday, but when the horse turned in a mediocre work two weeks prior and didn’t bounce back the way Velazquez had hoped, they changed plans.

“We’re going to come in ready. All I want is a clean trip for once,” said Velazquez, whose horse had trouble in the Wood and the Derby. “We drew the rail, but it’s not the same as getting kickback from 13 or 14 horses in his face (like the Derby).”

Brooklyn Strong is 8-1 on the morning line in a race that offers a free entry to the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes for the top two finishers. Mandaloun is the heavy favorite at 3-5, and he may go off at even lower odds. Dr. Jack, who is 2-for-2 lifetime, Gotham Stakes winner Weyburn and Maryland-based Lugamo, who was an also-ran in the UAE Derby in Dubai in March, round out the field.

“I can’t get him any fitter,” said Velazquez, who was very pleased with Brooklyn Strong’s workout at Parx Racing last Saturday, when he went 5 furlongs in :59.91 under Abner Adorno, who will ride him in the Pegasus.

“Abner rode him when he broke his maiden and he knows him better than anybody.” Velazquez said. “He’s excited.”

It will be the second graded stakes mount for Adorno, who rode New Commission to a fifth in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in 2020.

“Abner is underrated. He’s a good jockey,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz and Velazquez are hoping to see the return of the Brooklyn Strong that closed his 2-year-old campaign by winning the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct while recording a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

Brooklyn Strong was bred by Cheryl Prudhomme and her husband, Dr. Michael Gallivan, and foaled at their Shamrock Hill Farm in Fort Edward. Prudhomme and Gallivan sold him as a weanling. Schwartz bought him for $5,000 at the 2020 OBS Spring 2-year-old sale.

After breaking his maiden at Delaware Park, Brooklyn Strong ran third in the Bertram Bongard and won the Sleepy Hollow. He took on open company in the Remsen and got up just before the wire to earn 10 Derby qualifying points, which turned out to be enough to get him into the field.

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