Updated on 06/08/2013 4:39PM

Belmont Park: Fast Bullet wires True North in comeback; Zayat runners 1-2

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Justin N. Lane
Fast Bullet won the True North while making his first start since December.

ELMONT, N.Y. -  Fast Bullet served notice he will be a major force to reckon with in the sprint division this season after returning from a six-month vacation to register an impressive 2 1/2-length decision over entrymate Justin Phillip in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 True North Handicap at Belmont Park.       

The True North was the fourth one-sided victory in five starts for Fast Bullet, a 5-year-old son of Speightstown whose only setback came in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint. With jockey Joel Rosario aboard for the first time, Fast Bullet quickly sprinted to command, completing an opening quarter in 22.48 seconds and a half in a moderate 45.16. Fast Bullet eased farther out from the rail entering the stretch, resisted a bid from Justin Phillip when roused leaving the furlong grounds and was not all out at the wire.

Justin Phillip, runner-up behind Caixa Eletronica in the 2012 True North, slipped along the rail to challenge the winner in early stretch, eased outside to continue his bid nearing midstretch but proved no match while easily second best. It was another 4 1/2 lengths farther back to Laurie’s Rocket, who outlasted Off the Jak to be third. The slow-starting Sage Valley and defending champion Caixa Eletronica completed the order of finish.

[BELMONT STAKES DAY: Video replays and race results]

Fast Bullet is owned by Zayat Stable Inc. and gave trainer Bob Baffert his second straight stakes win on the card, following Power Broker’s impressive tally in the Easy Goer.

Fast Bullet, who was coupled in the wagering with the Zayat-owned Justin Phillip, returned $3.60 after completing the distance in 1:08.27 over a racetrack upgraded from muddy to good earlier in the day.

“He’s so fast, so talented, he deserved to win one of these big races,” said Baffert by phone from southern California immediately after the race. “Rosario got him out of there nicely and once he’s on the lead like that he’s awfully tough. When I saw the first fraction, 22 and change, I was pretty confident. That’s like walking out here in California.”

Baffert praised the New York Racing Association for having the main track in such top condition following nearly five inches of rainfall the previous day.

“That’s really my kind of track, better a little wetter than too dry and cuppy,” said Baffert.    

Baffert said he has nothing picked out just yet for Fast Bullet’s next start.

“We’ll bring him back to California and see how he comes out of this race before thinking about his next start,” said Baffert. “We’ve been very patient with this horse and we’ll continue to pick our spots as we go along.”