10/05/2013 5:39PM

Belmont Park: Up With the Birds wins Jamaica Handicap to cap season

Michael Amoruso
Up With the Birds (No. 11), under jockey Cornelio Velasquez, wins the Jamaica Handicap by a half-length Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Since Up With the Birds won the Breeders’ Stakes – the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown – in August, his connections had just one target remaining for their 3-year-old in 2013.

In Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park, they hit the bull’s-eye.

Despite having to go five to six wide in the stretch under Cornelio Velasquez, Up With the Birds rallied down the center of Belmont’s inner turf course and outfinished Admiral Kitten to win the Jamaica by a half-length. It was another half-length back to Jack Milton in third.

The win was the fourth from six starts this year and the sixth from nine overall for Up With the Birds, who also surpassed the $1 million mark in earnings for owner and breeder Sam-Son Farm.

It also was the final race of the year for Up With the Birds, according to trainer Malcolm Pierce.

“He’s run hard all year; he’s going home for a rest now,” said Pierce, who earned his first Grade 1 victory in the Jamaica. “There are no more plans for this season. We wanted to keep him against straight 3-year-olds. This looked like a great spot to try, and we’re sure happy to be here and happy with the outcome.”

Pierce also was happy with the ride Velasquez gave Up With the Birds, getting him over to the three path from post No. 11 early and swinging wide around the turn to avoid being stuck in traffic.

“Losing a little bit of ground, he didn’t get the horse’s momentum stopped, which is better than getting checked in the stretch behind a horse that was stopping,” Pierce said.

Up With the Birds, a Canadian-bred son of Stormy Atlantic, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.74 and returned $10.20.

Admiral Kitten, the 7-2 favorite after winning the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington last out, tried to rally from last under Rosie Napravnik but fell just short. He got no help from Get in Line, ridden by David Cohen, whom owner Ken Ramsey entered as a pacesetter but who set a dawdling half-mile fraction of 49.98 seconds.

“He ran excellent; the pace was absolutely pedestrian,” Napravnik said. “He’s the kind of horse that you can’t change his running style. He just lags around the first turn and makes a big run.”