05/25/2013 5:13PM

Belmont Park: Tannery relishes soft turf in Sheepshead Bay

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Joe Labozzetta
Tannery, with Luis Saez aboard, wins the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay by a length Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Benefitting from a race under her belt, the soft turf she relishes, and a ground-saving ride from Luis Saez, Tannery pulled off a 10-1 upset in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park.

Tannery, content to lay seventh under Saez, defeated a slow-breaking Anjaz by one length. It was 1 1/4 lengths farther back to the pacesetting Minakshi in third.

Julie’s Love finished fourth and was followed by Mystical Star, Hessonite, the 9-5 favorite, Strathnaver, and Starformer.

The race was run over an extremely soft Belmont Park inner turf course and was the only one of six scheduled grass races not moved to the dirt Saturday.

Tannery, a 4-year-old daughter of Dylan Thomas, had won two races in Ireland last summer over yielding turf, including the Group 3 Kilboy Estate Stakes at The Curragh. Her best race in the United States came last November in the Long Island Handicap, where she was beaten less than a length over soft Aqueduct turf.

Tannery spent the winter and early spring in New Jersey with trainer Alan Goldberg, who said he couldn’t train the filly on turf at Colts Neck Farm due to inclement conditions. He basically used the Owsley Stakes, in which Tannery finished fourth here May 1, as a prep for this.

“Just getting a race into her was key,” said Goldberg, who watched the race from home in New Jersey. “We had such terrible weather here this winter, we weren’t able to get to the turf prior to her last race. I expected her to run big.”

Breaking from post 3, Saez kept Tannery along the rail for virtually the entire trip. Minakshi set modest fractions under Rajiv Maragh, and Saez had Tannery about six lengths off the pace.

Turning into the stretch, Minakshi drifted out, and Saez guided Tannery through a large opening. She outfinished Anjaz, who broke slowly under Irad Ortiz Jr. and rallied down the center of the course.

Tannery, owned by Richard Santulli, covered the 1 3/8 miles in 2:20.17 and returned $22.60 to win.

“I saved ground all the time,” Saez said. “When I came to the stretch, thank God I had a hole, and I had horse, too. When I asked, she responded to me perfect.”

Anjaz had broken slowly in her U.S. debut when fourth in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream. She broke slowly again Saturday, but trainer Tom Albertrani expressed dissatisfaction that the gate crew had placed a blanket over Anjaz’s back.

“I don’t think she cares to have it on her,” Albertrani said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to have it on her. It’s the reason we school horses in the morning, so they don’t have to wear it.”

Soft turf figured to aid Hessonite, who had several races over yielding turf in the past. However, she was kept in the clear by jockey Juior Alvarado and had moved into second five furlongs from home. She flattened out in upper stretch.

“You got to cover her up,” trainer David Donk said. “It’s not the way he rode her the first time.”