09/14/2013 6:27PM

Belmont Park: Alterite impresses in Garden City Stakes

Tom Keyser
Alterite, ridden by John Velazquez, wins the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – A difficult day turned around in a hurry for trainer Chad Brown when Alterite, making her North American debut, scored a visually impressive 1 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park.

Receiving only a hand ride from John Velazquez, Alterite easily went by the pacesetting Discreet Marq inside the eighth pole and cruised to a comfortable victory in her first start for Brown.

In a four-horse photo finish, Discreet Marq held second by a nose over Concise, who was third by a head over Watsdachances, who was fourth by a nose over Summer of Fun.

The win helped Brown salvage a day in which his 2-year-old filly Ready to Act ducked in and hit the rail – unseating jockey Rajiv Maragh – when she seemed on her way to victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine. One race before the Garden City, at Belmont, the Brown-trained Laugh Out Loud finished last in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel.

“This is a great way to end it,” Brown said. “That’s horse racing; I ride both sides of the cycle. I just hope [Maragh] is okay.”

This was the second straight year that Brown and owner Martin Schwartz won the Grade 1 Garden City. Last year, they did it with Samitar, who didn’t win another race for a year.

Michel Zerolo, a bloodstock agent, purchased Alterite for Schwartz following her 2-year-old season, and the filly raced four times in France this year, winning once and coming within a nose of taking a Group 1 at Longchamp.

“When Michel bought this horse as a 2-year-old for Marty, he told me how high he was on her,” Brown said.

Brown was a little concerned that the turf was labeled “firm” Saturday, but it most likely had some give in it due to Thursday’s heavy rains.

Under Velazquez, Alterite was sitting fourth in the Garden City but within three lengths of the slow pace established by Discreet Marq, who ran six furlongs in 1:15.49.

Velazquez tipped Alterite three wide around the far turn, and the filly joined the leaders, basically under her own power. When Velazquez started moving his hands vigorously in upper stretch, Alterite took off and sped past Discreet Marq.

“She was going so good that I didn’t worry about [the pace],” said Velazquez, who is just 2 for 33 at this meet. “[Brown] just said, ‘Tuck her in the first part, work your way through, and let her finish.’ I didn’t really have to work my way through. I just had to pull her out at the three-eighths pole and let her cruise to the horses in front of her, and she did it pretty easy.”

Alterite, a French-bred daughter of Literato, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.55 and returned $8 as the second choice behind Discreet Marq.

“For her to still kick on to a slow pace like that and run on firmer ground than probably she’s more effective on, it was a pretty impressive race,” Brown said.

Brown said he most likely would point Alterite to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 12.