Updated on 06/08/2013 5:36PM

Belmont Park: Forty Tales rallies on outside to win Woody Stephens

Michael Amoruso
Forty Tales, with Joel Rosario riding, wins the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes by three-quarters of a length.

ELMONT, N. Y. – With a wild charge on the outside, Forty Tales got up to win the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Belmont Park on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Forty Tales, next to last in the 11-horse field down the backstretch and on the far turn, angled out in the stretch while gaining, and persevered to best one unlucky opponent and a couple of other tired ones, to score by three-quarters of a length. He paid $19.80.

Declan’s Warrior also finished well to be second, a head before Clearly Now, but was unlucky. Declan’s Warrior was moving in company inside of Forty Tales in the stretch when caught in tight between that one and the drifting Clearly Now. Declan’s Warrior was then shifted inside of Clearly Now, who then began to drift in, bothering Declan’s Warrior once more. Under the circumstances, it was to Declan’s Warrior’s credit that he was able to best Clearly Now for the place, and he probably would have been right with the winner at the wire with a cleaner trip.

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Clearly Now did manage to save third, finishing just a head before the tired pacesetter and 2-1 favorite, Let Em Shine.

Forty Tales was ridden by Joel Rosario and covered the seven furlongs over a main track that had been just upgraded to fast in 1:22.47. The Woody Stephens was the second straight stakes win for the Kentucky-bred colt by Tale of the Cat and out of Forty Love, by Forty Niner. He previously won the Derby Trial Stakes for Perretti Racing Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher.

As expected, California speedball Let Em Shine went to the front in the Stephens, but it was a bit of a surprise that his lead wasn’t much more than a length over Zee Bros through fractions of 21.99 seconds and 44.73. Clearly Now wasn’t far off the pace and was well positioned on the outside, while Forty Tales was about 12 lengths off the lead in the early stages.

Let Em Shine and Zee Bros were still going at it on the lead in midstretch, after six furlongs in 1:09.21. Let Em Shine finally turned away Zee Bros, only to be quickly challenged by Clearly Now. But like Zee Bros just before them, Clearly Now and Let Em Shine were about out of gas and were overtaken by Forty Tales and then Declan’s Warrior.

“He’s a real solid horse,” Pletcher said of Forty Tales. “The biggest concern was just how the racetrack was playing. We can’t change his style at this point, so we just let him run his race and, fortunately, they went fast enough to come back to him today.

“We’re fortunate to have a lot of good 3-year-olds,” Pletcher added, “and none of them are as brave as this one.”