08/13/2016 6:36PM

Beach Patrol by a head in Secretariat Stakes

Four-Footed Fotos
Beach Patrol, with Florent Geroux aboard, wins the Secretariat Stakes by a head Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Florent Geroux had ridden three horses for trainer Chad Brown before Saturday, none of whom hit the board. But Brown entrusted Geroux with rides in two Grade 1 races on Saturday at Arlington, Geroux won both of them, and the ride he gave Beach Patrol in the Grade 1, $450,000 Secretariat was exactly what Brown desired.

“That was the trip we were hoping he’d get last time,” Brown said. “Florent kept him in the clear and out of trouble.”

Beach Patrol had gotten into a spot of trouble and was posted four wide on the turns when he finished third in the Belmont Derby last month. Geroux had him three wide today but sacrificed a bit of ground loss to keep Beach Patrol out of traffic. The pair moved to challenge for the lead at the top of the stretch, took over before the stretch call, then had to hold off a resurgent Long Island Sound, whom Beach Patrol had passed in midstretch, but who continued on gamely to the finish for trainer Aidan O’Brien, who was seeking his third straight Secretariat win.

“You know when you pass a horse from that barn, you’d better go by quickly because they always run,” said Geroux.

Geroux is a Frenchman who cut his teeth in American racing on the Chicago circuit, basing at Arlington during the summer until this year. His business has grown by leaps and bounds, and though he has won Breeders’ Cup races, Saturday surely was the best single day of his career. He won five of the card’s 10 races, four graded stakes, and two Grade 1s. He also won the Grade 1 Beverly D. for Brown on Sea Calisi, the Grade 3 American St. Leger on Da Big Hoss, and was elevated to first by a disqualification on the Brown-trained Noble Beauty in the Grade 3 Pucker Up.

“I don’t feel pressure. I just try to have a blank mind on days like this, try to ride my best,” Geroux said.

Scissors and Tape, a pacemaker for Oscar Nominated, set a solid pace over good-to-firm going, passing the half-mile in 48.31, pursued by Long Island Sound and Beach Patrol. The pacemaker threw in the towel at the top of the stretch as the two favorites slugged it out, with Beach Patrol just a head better on the day. American Patriot had a traffic-filled trip on the inside and ran a good race to get third, three-quarters of a length behind Long Island Sound.

“He wasn’t taking me anywhere early,” said jockey William Buick. “He’s a big horse, and it probably wasn’t ideal being in so tight.”

Long Island Sound improved Saturday on his sixth-place finish in the Belmont Derby. “He was better this time than last time,” said jockey Seamie Heffernan. “He’s an improving horse.”

One Mean Man turned in his typically solid performance to finish fourth and was followed by Oscar Nominated, Cordon, Surgical Strike, Cherry Wine, and Scissors and Tape. The winning time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:01.95. Beach Patrol paid $7.60 as the mild favorite.

Beach Patrol is owned by James Covello, Sheep Pond Partners, and Head of Plains Partners. He’s a 3-year-old colt by Lemon Drop Kid out of the Quiet American mare Bashful Bertie who has gone 3-2-2 from eight starts and won his first graded stakes after a near miss in May in the American Turf. Beach Patrol was developed as a young horse by trainer Wayne Catalano and was sold privately this year by Gary and Mary West.