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Jun 11, 2010

Drosselmeyer: Not the best horse last Saturday

By: by Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Drosselmeyer won the 142nd Belmont Stakes but the most promising colt that ran at Belmont Park was not even entered in a stakes race.

The fourth race on the card gave horseplayers a glimpse of future greatness as Trappe Shot rolled to a four-length victory over Tahitian Warrior in his first trip over seven furlongs.

I've been touting this three-year-old for months now and this last performance was flat-out incredible. Not only did he get the distance in 1:22 flat, he ran three-fifths of a second faster than five-time stakes winner D'Funnybone, who won the Woody Stephens Stakes two races later in 1:22 3/5.

Furthermore, Bribon, last year's Met Mile champion, took the six-furlong True North Handicap (the eighth race on the card) in 1:09 3/5, just one tick faster than Trappe Shot, who had to run another furlong.

The win was Trappe Shot's third straight this year and his first in open company. After finishing fifth in his debut last July, the son of Tapit returned to the races in late February in a maiden special weight race for Florida breds at Gulfstream Park. He won that six-furlong event by 10 1/4- lengths in 1:09 2/5.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin moved him up a half-furlong to 6 1/2 for his next race, also against state-breds. The chestnut colt came out running once again blowing out an entry-level allowance field by 12 3/4-lengths in 1:16 1/5.

Trappe Shot was expected to make his stakes debut in the Withers at Aqueduct on April 24, but a slight injury held him back. McLaughlin decided not to rush his three-year-old star and waited more than a month to race him once again. That day finally came this past Saturday moving upward against older horses for the very first time.

Trapped on the rail for most of the first five furlongs, his natural speed allowed him to keep up with the fast pace. Then jockey Alan Garcia moved him into the three-path at the top of the stretch sitting in the third spot.

Second choice Tahitian Warrior took over the lead from pacesetter Ricoriatoa, but in a matter of seconds, Trappe Shot ran right by him en route to another easy victory. In three races this year, Garcia has yet to even take out the whip!

McLaughlin has already indicated where he'll send his prized colt next. It's off to Monmouth Park in the Long Branch Stakes on July 10. That will be a very important race around two turns at 1 1/16-miles. If he handles the distance, look for him to move forward in either the Jim Dandy or Haskell, with the Travers Stakes being the primary goal.

If Trappe Shot doesn't pass the distance test, expect him to revert back to sprinting with the Amsterdam and King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga the primary objectives.

There should be no reason two turns will have any adverse effects on this future star. His father Tapit has already sired Careless Jewel, who won last year's 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes. Tapit's dam, Tap Your Heels, is a half- sister to both Rubiano and Hong Kong Jade. Rubiano sired Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, while Hong Kong Jade produced Hong Kong Squall, the dam of Summer Bird, winner of last year's Belmont and Travers Stakes as well as the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Trappe Shot's female family is also loaded with stayers. His second dam, Impish, produced Lay Down, who finished first in the 10-furlong Excelsior Handicap back in 1990. His damsire, Private Account, winner of the 1 1/4-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap 10 years earlier, sired future champions Personal Ensign and Inside Information.

Private Account's half-sister Dance Number produced Rhythm, who won the 1990 Travers, and Rhythm's full-sister. Get Lucky. is the dam of Supercharger, who produced this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver.


Someone had to win the Belmont Stakes. It turned out to be Drosselmeyer, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Fly Down with First Dude finishing third. The 13-1 shot came into the third leg of the Triple Crown on a three race losing streak, including a six-length loss to the aforementioned Fly Down in the Dwyer Stakes.

With a change of jockeys from Kent Desormeaux to Mike Smith, Drosselmeyer was able to turn the tables on his rival producing a $144.50 exacta. It was Smith's first ever Belmont victory, giving him his own personal Triple Crown with previous wins in the Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo in 2005 and the Preakness on Prairie Bayou all the way back in 1993. Drosselmeyer's win also gave WinStar Farm its second Triple Crown win this year, as the owners also had Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby.

Still, the race was a pathetic display as the final time for the 1 1/2-mile event was a pedestrian 2:31 2/5. Not since Thunder Gulch won the 1995 Belmont Stakes has there been a slower time in the Test of Champions. The next most listless race came in 1970 when High Echelon prevailed over a sloppy track in 2:34, and the slowest final time before that was all the way back in 1944!

The dawdling early pace (24, 49, 1:14 1/5) allowed First Dude to hang on for third, edging out Game On Dude, who faltered through the stretch to finish fourth. The $2 superfecta returned a solid $10,658 compared to $766 for the $2 trifecta.

Ice Box finished a dismal ninth as the 8-5 favorite, but he never had a chance due to the deliberate early fractions.

To show what kind of year it has been, six different horses finished first and second in all three Triple Crown races marking just the second time that has happened since 1962.

Eighteen years ago, Lil E. Tee and Casual Lies ran one-two in the Kentucky Derby. Pine Bluff and Alydeed crossed the wire in that order in the Preakness, and A.P. Indy and My Memoirs repeated it in the Belmont.

This year Super Saver and Ice Box completed the Derby exacta, while Lookin At Lucky and First Dude ran first and second in the middle leg, and Drosselmeyer and Fly Down finished it off in the Belmont.

Let's hope Trappe Shot becomes the next superstar of the sport because the rest of this three-year-old division is extremely weak.

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