06/10/2016 5:47PM

Brown sweeps trifecta as Dacita wins New York Stakes

Emily Shields
Dacita, with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, wins the New York Stakes by three-quarters of a length Friday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Dacita beat Sea Calisi and Guapaza in the Grade 2, $500,000 New York Stakes on Friday at Belmont Park, but the big winner was Chad Brown, who trains all three fillies. 

“Listen, all three horses ran terrific, so that makes a trainer happy,” Brown said.

The owner Martin Schwartz finished second and third in the New York, and he wasn’t so pleased. Sea Calisi, whom Schwartz calls “my best horse” and who was the 4-5 favorite in the race, suffered through a brutal trip in defeat. She stumbled one step into the race, was stuck in last behind a slow pace, then had rough passage along the inside when full of run through the homestretch.

“Sea Calisi unfortunately didn’t have a great trip there inside,” Brown said. “I felt like if she could have gotten clear, she’d have had a better kick than she showed, but that’s turf racing, especially short field, moderate pace.”

Photo Call, the second choice at 7-2, quickly went clear on the lead, setting very reasonable splits of 25.05 seconds, 50.31, and 1:15.23, the half-mile and three-quarters fractions into a headwind of 10 to 15 mph. Guapaza raced in second, jockey John Velazquez waiting to challenge the leader until partway around the far turn. He drew abreast of Photo Call, who folded up without much fight, but then came her two stablemates to challenge.

While Irad Ortiz Jr. on Dacita swung outside at the top of the stretch, Jose Ortiz on Sea Calisi stuck to the inside and found little room there. Sea Calisi, so full of run that her head was cocked from pulling for free rein, bobbled a bit while in tight, found no room when her rider gently probed on the rail, and finally came between horses for a clear path in the final furlong or so. She finished well, but not as well as Dacita, who had a clean outside run after being maneuvered four or five paths from the fence.

Even accounting for a tailwind, the top three all flew home, the race’s final quarter-mile going in 22.07 seconds. Dacita was timed in 2:01.46 for 1 1/4 miles on firm turf and paid $11.80 as the third choice. She beat Sea Calisi by three-quarters of a length, with Guapaza another half a length back in third. It was 1 1/2 lengths farther back to Trophee in fourth, with Kyllachey Queen, Photo Call, and Havana Moon completing the order of finish.

Dacita, who was bred in Chile and imported to the U.S. last year after nine starts, won for the first time since she beat Tepin in the Ballston Spa last summer at Saratoga. She ran decently in finishing second in The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream this winter but was ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last fall at Keeneland and a well-beaten fourth there April 16 in the Jenny Wiley.

“The race at Gulfstream wasn’t bad off a layoff,” Brown said. “Really, her two Keeneland races, it’s becoming more apparent she doesn’t like that track, so that’s really relieving because she’s a horse that we had such high hopes for. Irad rode her beautifully. It’s his first time riding this filly, and she can be a little quirky, so hats off to him.”

Dacita’s major upcoming goal is the Grade 1 Diana over nine furlongs at Saratoga this summer. Brown and Schwartz would like to send Sea Calisi to the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington; Brown said it’s uncertain whether the filly would have a start before then.

The 5-year-old Dacita, a multiple Group 1 winner in Chile owned by Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds, won for the eighth time in 14 starts. She’s a daughter of Scat Daddy and the mare Daja, by Seeker’s Reward, bred by Haras Paso Nevado.