09/14/2014 5:42PM

Lubash ends drought with Ashley T. Cole win


The New York-bred male turf division welcomed back an old friend to the winner’s circle while the female turf division opened the door for a new invader in a pair of restricted stakes Sunday at Belmont Park.

Lubash, winless in his last six stakes tries against New York-breds, rallied from last to nail the pace-setting King Kreesa and win the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes by a neck. The result helped Lubash reverse a head loss to King Kreesa in the West Point Stakes at Saratoga last month.

A few hours later, Invading Humor, after being passed at the quarter pole by Mah Jong Maddnes and Effie Trinket, came back along the inside under Rajiv Maragh to win the $125,000 John Hettinger Stakes by a length over longshot Strike Accord. It was the first stakes victory for Invading Humor and her fourth consecutive victory.

Lubash, a 7-year-old son of Freud, won for the 11th time in 37 career starts and pushed his career earnings to $911,079 for owner-breeder Leonard Pivnick, who races under the name Aliyu Ben J Stables.

Though he had won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont in May 2013, Lubash hadn’t won a New York-bred stakes since he took the 2012 Ashley T. Cole. Since the Fort Marcy, Lubash had lost eight straight stakes, six of them in New York-bred company.

On Sunday, under Junior Alvarado, Lubash settled into last position while King Kreesa, under Irad Ortiz Jr., set a modest pace while being stalked closely by Kharafa.

Alvarado guided Lubash around a tiring Front and then inside of a non-responsive Notacatbutallama turning into the stretch. He came with a resolute rally to just get past King Kreesa, who had won the last three New York-bred stakes in which he had run.

Lubash covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.83 over a good inner turf course and returned $6.10 as the second choice.

In the West Point, Lubash stalked King Kreesa from second and could not get past him. On Sunday, trainer Christophe Clement was looking for a different kind of ride.

“Because of the rain yesterday and the distance, I just said I wouldn’t mind to wait a little bit,” Clement said he told Alvarado. “But he’s a horse you can do whatever you want with.”

Lubash, King Kreesa, and the third-place finisher Kharafa most likely will return Oct. 18 in the $200,000 Mohawk Stakes at Belmont.

Invading Humor was making her stakes debut in the Hettinger after reeling off three consecutive victories.

Under Rajiv Maragh, Invading Humor sparred on the lead outside of Princess Mara through six furlongs in 1:13.81.

Approaching the top of the stretch, Mah Jong Maddness and Effie Trinket, the 3-5 favorite, went after Invading Humor and briefly passed her at the quarter pole. But Maragh still had horse and kept after Invading Humor, who turned aside the challenge of those two and had enough to win the Hettinger by a length over Strike Accord. It was a neck back to Effie Trinket in third.

"I didn't ask her until I got to the stretch,” Maragh said. “I thought I still had horse, but until you let them loose, you never know. When I asked her to run, she just sprinted away.”

It was the sixth victory in 12 career starts for Invading Humor, whose first victory came in a maiden $20,000 claiming race on the dirt in May 2013.

Levine said he was naturally concerned at the top of the stretch, but he did know that Invading Humor, a daughter of Invasor, was a fighter.

“When a horse comes to her, she digs in,” Levine said. “She doesn’t win by a whole lot, but she’ll dig in, and she won’t let anyone by her.”

Invading Humor, who gave Maragh his third win on Sunday’s card, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.47 and returned $12.80 to win.

Expect most of these fillies back Oct. 18 for the $200,000 Ticonderoga Stakes.