Dr. Blute wires Empire Classic field

Sunday, October 30th, 2022

Dr. Blute lands first stakes in Sunday’s $250,000 Empire Classic. Janet Garaguso/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Gate open, game over.

The $250,000 Empire Classic Stakes was surely more than that, but not by much as Dr. Blute took the lead from the start and cruised all the way to a front-running victory in the co-headliner on Sunday’s Empire Showcase Day card at the Belmont at the Big A meeting.

Stretched out beyond a mile for the first time, Dr. Blute and jockey Jose Ortiz won the 9-furlong Empire Classic by three-quarters of a length over Curlin’s Wisdom with New York Derby winner Barese third and Sea Foam fourth. Dr. Blute, a 4-year-old son of Not This Time owned by Sean Flanagan’s Flanagan Racing, won in 1:51.95 over the fast track.

Dr. Blute added the Empire Classic to his victory in a 1-mile state-bred allowance Sept. 18 at Aqueduct. He finished second and third in two other starts for Saffie Joseph Jr., who took over the gelding’s training this spring.

“We thought he would stretch out and that two turns would work out for him, but you never know until you try it,” Joseph said. “We left it up to Jose. He’s always a horse that gets a little restless in the gate, but thank God he broke so sharp and got into a good rhythm.”

Dr. Blute improved to 3-for-3 at Aqueduct, with the first win coming in his debut Feb. 27, 2021 on a sloppy track for trainer John Kimmel. The Empire Classic marked just the second stakes appearance for Dr. Blute, who finished fifth in the Mike Lee Stakes on Big Apple Showcase Day in 2021.

The two-turn configuration of the Empire Classic – previously run around one turn when contested at Belmont Park – appealed to the winning gelding’s connections.

“Stretching him out was one of the key factors,” Joseph said. “The first time we ran him short. I talked to Sean after the first time I ran him and I said we didn’t have anything to lose by stretching him out. Since we’ve done it, thank God it’s worked out. He’s turned into a solid horse.”

Bred by Hidden Lake Farm and Axle Ahlschwede, foaled at Hidden Lake Farm in Stillwater and purchased by Flanagan for $100,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training, Dr. Blute is out of the unraced Friends Lake mare Truss. A half-sister to the dam of Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Bar of Gold, Truss is the dam of the winning New York-bred Freud mare Dulcita and the placed New York-bred 2-year-old Bolt d’Oro colt Gold Templar.

Dr. Blute earned $137,500 for the Empire Classic to boost his bankroll to $301,550 from a record of 3-2-3 in 11 starts.

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