05/06/2017 2:40PM

Sea Calisi scores second straight Sheepshead Bay win

Annette Jasko/NYRA
Sea Calisi paid $4.20 to win the Sheepshead Bay at Belmont on Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - A year ago, Sea Calisi began her 4-year-old season with an eye-catching victory in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park. On Saturday, she scored a repeat victory under a well-judged ride by Irad Ortiz Jr.

In the paddock before the race, owner Martin Schwartz admitted to having some pre-race jitters, but said the yielding ground at Belmont suited his mare and that he expected a big effort. Sea Calisi delivered and can now be expected to compete in the major filly and mare turf events of the coming summer.

Ortiz bided his time in fifth position for the first mile of the 1 3/8-mile Sheepshead Bay. He took Sea Calisi four wide leaving the five-sixteenths pole and she looped the first four runners to enter the stretch with the lead and a full head of steam. She held Suffused safe the final eighth of a mile to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

Sea Calisi, who is trained by Chad Brown, paid $4.20 as the favorite over 2-1 Suffused. She was timed over the yielding course in 2:16.83.

"I had a lot of horse and she was comfortable, so I went outside on the turn and let her go," Ortiz said.

Sea Calisi is now 5 for 13 in her career and 3 for 6 since being imported to North America prior to last season. She peaked with a victory in the Grade 1 Beverly D. last August before tailing off somewhat and finishing third in the Flower Bowl Invitational and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

While Sea Calisi was making her winning move nearing the stretch, Suffused was down along the inside behind the leaders, Zipessa and Apple Betty, and inside Achnaha. By the time she shook free entering the stretch, Sea Calisi was long gone.

Suffused finished with a good run to be second best and will likely meet Sea Calisi again later this season. It was 10 3/4 lengths back from Suffused to Apple Betty in third.