10/22/2016 2:00PM

Quezon delivers as heavy favorite in Iroquois Stakes


ELMONT, N.Y. – The connections of Quezon weren’t concerned about a wet track for their filly in Saturday’s $150,000 Iroquois Stakes. They just wanted a safe track.

After the first two races on Saturday’s card, the jockeys expressed to management some concern over the safety of the track, most notably the amount of standing water on the sloppy surface after heavy rain.

The Iroquois was delayed 16 minutes as tractors went around the track one more time to get some water off it and pack the track down tighter.

When it was time to run, Quezon did what a 1-5 favorite is expected to, taking over from the pacesetting Court Dancer at the three-sixteenths pole and drawing off to a 5 1/4-length victory in the Iroquois, the first of eight stakes on Saturday’s Empire Showcase Day program.

Wonderment rallied to get second by four lengths over Court Dancer. Frosty Margarita finished last. E Warfare was pulled up at the midway point on the turn and vanned off. Her jockey, Luis Saez, said, E Warfare bled, something the New York Racing Association confirmed.

Hot City Girl, the 6-5 morning-line favorite, scratched. Trainer Linda Rice said Hot City Girl had been battling a foot issue for weeks, and she didn’t want to take a chance running her on a wet track.

Quezon improved to 5 for 10 overall and 3 for 5 over a wet surface, including a six-length maiden score in the slop as a 2-year-old.

The scratch of Hot City Girl meant that Court Dancer was the lone speed. Unlike the Union Avenue, where she failed to break, Court Dancer jumped out in front and set fractions of 22.73 seconds and 45.74 for the opening half-mile under Manny Franco.

Quezon chased the pace, first from the outside of Court Dancer, then to her inside, and then back to her outside approaching the top of the stretch. Quezon took over from Court Dancer inside the three-sixteenths and splashed home an easy winner.

“Sometimes she can be a little difficult switching leads; she did it at the top of the stretch today, so easy at the right time, the right place,” winning jockey Javier Castellano said. “Of course, she likes the sloppy track. Those conditions helped her to move forward.”

Castellano said that after the second race, a lot of jockeys were concerned with the surface.

“We gave it some time, they [worked] the track, and it’s tight,” Castellano said. “So far, so good.”

Quezon, a daughter of Tiz Wonderful owned by Marc Keller, covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.38 and returned $2.50.

Though he knows Quezon likes an off track, trainer Robert Ribaudo said he would have preferred the race be run on fast footing.

“I don’t need a wet track, I need a safe track,” Ribaudo said.

In her previous start, Quezon finished second in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom. She will be given the remainder of the year off and brought back as a 5-year-old to compete in open-company stakes.

“We’ll give her some time and point for next season,” Ribaudo said. “Five-year-old year is a great time for horses. If they’re sound and they make it to 5, they’re at their best, and we’ll try some open-company races next year.”