09/07/2008 12:00AM

Backseat Rhythm rallies wide to win Garden City


ELMONT, N.Y. - As the minority owner of dual classic winner Big Brown, Paul Pompa Jr. has spent much of the year overshadowed by his partners, the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Stable.

Saturday, in the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park, Pompa got the spotlight all to himself, coincidentally, at the expense of his Big Brown partners.

Pompa's Backseat Rhythm rallied widest of all entering the stretch under Javier Castellano and was able to outfinish the IEAH-owned duo of Pure Clan and Ariege to win the $250,000 Garden City by a half-length. Pure Clan, the stronger part of the IEAH entry, finished second by a neck over Ariege. It was a length back to My Princess Jess in fourth.

The victory came 369 days after Big Brown won his debut on turf at Saratoga by 11 1/4 lengths, prompting the IEAH team to buy a 75 percent interest in the colt from Pompa. This year, Big Brown has won four Grade 1's, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

"IEAH and I have had a tremendous relationship, we've had a lot of success," Pompa said after Backseat Rhythm withstood an objection from Pure Clan's jockey Julien Leparoux. "I still have 20-some of my own horses. Pat Reynolds is doing a fine job, he's a graded stakes trainer."

Pompa said he had offers to sell Backseat Rhythm last year after she finished second in the Grade 1 Frizette and third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"We repeatedly thought she was special enough not to sell her," Pompa said. "She proved me right today."

Backseat Rhythm, a daughter of El Corredor, raced in sixth position, outside the IEAH duo, down the backside. Approaching the quarter pole, Backseat Rhythm came five wide and persevered past Ariege 50 yards out while holding off Pure Clan, whose rider claimed that Backseat Rhythm came in on her inside the sixteenth pole. The stewards disallowed the claim.

Backseat Rhythm, who won the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga on Aug. 15, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.82 over yielding turf and returned $11.80.

"This was sweet," Reynolds said. "I thought she had a physical advantage. She summered really well; Pure Clan had come in a little narrow-looking since her last start. I told Javier you're going to have the stamina, so don't punch too early. With no pace, he had to draw in and then he had to really get into her to run by two nice fillies."