Point of Entry was part of a double for John VelazquezPICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Point Of Entry highlights Johnny V's big double
Report: USA, Saturday
Belmont Park: Manhattan Hcap (Grade 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
JOHN VELAZQUEZ, set to visit Royal Ascot later this month to partner Animal Kingdom in the Queen Anne Stakes, enjoyed a Grade 1 on the Belmont Stakes undercard courtesy of Point Of Entry and Stephanie's Kitten.
Despite a four-month layoff and unfavourable yielding turf, Point Of Entry (Shug McGaughey) was sent off a 1-2 shot before a gritty victory in the Manhattan, where he asserted close home to hold Optimizer by a length and a half, with Real Solution taking third place.
The five-year-old son of Dynaformer, who was conceding weight all round in the $500,000 event, was winning his fifth Grade 1 victory on his first start since he mastered Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February.
Point Of Entry's only defeat in his last seven starts came when he was second after an unlucky passage in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
"He's a very, very good horse," said trainer Shug McGaughey, speaking to the Blood-Horse. "For a horse who has only run one time since last November, carrying 124lb, I think it was probably starting to tell on him a little bit the last eighth, the last sixteenth of a mile. I'm very, very proud of what I saw today."
Also on Saturday
Belmont Park: Just A Game Stakes (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo+
Stephanie's Kitten (Wayne Catalano/John Velazquez) took her record on wet turf to four out of four as she shot through a gap on the fence before fighting off Godolphin's Better Lucky for a game victory in this $500,000 contest.
The winner is homebred by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who will also be at Royal Ascot next week to watch their Wesley Ward-trained two-year-olds in action.
Stephanie's Kitten, a four-year-old daughter of Kitten's Joy, was landing the second Grade 1 success of a career in which she also won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf at two.
She was sent off 3-1 second favourite in a race where Dayatthespa was scratched owing to the soft turf, and both Breeders' Cup winner Mizdirection and French-trained visitor Laugh Out Loud fell away tamely in the stretch.
Belmont Park: Woody Stephens Stakes (Grade 2) 7f, dirt, 3yo
Derby Trial winner Forty Tales (Todd Pletcher/Joel Rosario), sent off just short of 9-1, benefited from a huge speed duel before being produced from the rear to run down the pace factors inside the final furlong.
Perhaps the horse to emerge with most credit, though, was favoured Let Em Shine, who made the lead from his unfavourable outside post and was harried all the way, yet still had enough to lead into the last 100 yards before his exertions took their obvious toll and scuppered his bid for a five-timer.
Belmont Park: True North Hcap (Grade 2) 6f, dirt, 3yo+
Lightly raced Fast Bullet (Bob Baffert/Joel Rosario) showed why he is likely to be a factor in the Breeders' Cup Sprint when living up to his west-coast reputation with an all-the-way victory in this $400,000 contest.
Sent off 4-5 favourite as part of a coupled entry with runner-up Justin Phillip, the five-year-old took full advantage of a speed-favouring surface as he stopped the clock in 1m08.27s. He has now won four of his five career starts, his sole defeat coming last year at the Breeders' Cup.