10/08/2011 4:13PM

Belmont Park: Western Aristocrat leads all the way in Jamaica Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Western Aristocrat was never headed on his way to a one-length victory in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After watching Western Aristocrat win 3 of 6 starts in Europe, trainer Jeremy Noseda told owner Tom Ludt he felt the horse would “blossom in America.”

Noseda’s assessment proved correct as Western Aristocrat, under the hot-riding Corey Nakatani, led from start to finish to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park by one length over favored Brilliant Speed. It was three-quarters of a length back to longshot Wilkinson in third. Top Surprize, Sky Blazer, Casino Host, and Seal Cove completed the order of finish.

The win was the fifth from as many mounts on the day for Nakatani, who then won his sixth on the day when he guided My Miss Aurelia to victory in the Grade 1 Frizette in the next race.

In a race void of speed, Western Aristocrat jogged to the front through an opening quarter of 26.27 seconds over a Belmont inner turf course labeled firm. Brilliant Speed, under John Velazquez, prompted the pace, but Western Aristocrat kept on cruising through a half-mile in 52.20 and three-quarters in 1:16.21.

Brilliant Speed made another run at Western Aristocrat at the three-sixteenths pole, but Western Aristocrat turned him back and sprinted through a final furlong of 11.76. He covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.34 and returned $16.

“The plan was to keep him happy wherever he was comfortable,” Nakatani said. “I didn’t really want to be on the lead, but we found ourselves on the lead because there was no pace. It turned out for the better, because he was able to do what he wanted to do. When I called on him, he cut and rebroke and run a big race.”

Velazquez, the rider of Brilliant Speed, said his horse was simply second best.

“He found somebody better than him today, no excuse,” Velazquez said.  “Perfect spot. Half-mile pole we picked it up, and I couldn’t go by him.”

Ludt, who heads the Vinery Stable and also bred this son of Mister Greeley under the moniker Grapestock LLC., said Western Aristocrat would remain in this country with trainer Steve Asmussen. He will likely ship to Churchill Downs on Monday.

“He’s going to stick around and stay with Steve and hopefully have another good race or two,” Ludt said. “The plan – and we don’t like to get too far ahead of ourselves – if we do real good, we’ll go back to Dubai.”