07/03/2017 6:37PM

Seymourdini impresses in State Dinner Stakes victory

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Seymourdini and jockey Jose Ortiz win the State Dinner Stakes by 10 1/2 lengths.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After Seymourdini ran the first half-mile of Monday’s 1 1/16-mile State Dinner Stakes at Belmont Park in 44.94 seconds, trainer Linda Rice thought to herself, “Oh God, this can’t turn out well.”

Actually, it turned out very well.

Seymourdini kept cruising along on the lead through rapid fractions and widened his advantage as he scored a 10 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 State Dinner. Hard Study and Madefromlucky, eighth and ninth early on, rallied to finish second and third. Ocean Knight, the closest to Seymourdini early, finished fourth and was followed by Virtual Machine, Realm, Discreet Lover, Doyouknowsomething, and Touchofstarquality.

Seymourdini, a son of Bernardini purchased at auction as a 2-year-old for $900,000 by Iris Smith, won for the fifth time in nine starts. He is 3 for 3 this year, with his victories coming by a combined 36 1/4 lengths.

“He’s pretty spectacular,” Rice said. “It’s taken us a long time to get him into this kind of form. He showed a lot of talent as a 2-year-old, he showed talent as a 3-year-old, but it’s taken a long time to allow him to mature mentally and physically and put it all together. So, today he put it all together.”

It didn’t hurt that the skies opened up about 20 minutes before post time and heavy rain turned a fast track into one labeled “muddy” by the time the horses loaded into the gate. Seymourdini had won his most recent race by 13 1/2 lengths in the slop at Laurel.

On Monday under Jose Ortiz, Seymourdini broke a step slow after brushing the side of the gate. But Ortiz wanted him on the lead, and he was a half-length in front of Ocean Knight after an opening quarter in 22.62 seconds. He ran his second quarter in 22.32 but then was able to run his third quarter in 23.83.

Seymourdini continued to open up down the lane and covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.81, just 0.59 seconds off the track record of 1:39.22 set by Transparent in 2014. Seymourdini, named for Smith’s father-in-law, Seymour, a handicapper and former horse owner, returned $5.90 as the 9-5 favorite.

Ortiz, who was getting back on Seymourdini for the first time since December, said he watched how Horacio Karamanos rode him in two blowout wins at Laurel.

“Karamanos broke him, chased him a little, and then let him relax, and that’s what I did,” Ortiz said. “I went faster than I wanted to, but I think he’s a better horse on the lead, and he proved it today. I’m glad he handled the mile and a sixteenth well.”

Rice said that the long-term goal for Seymourdini is the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Dec. 2. How often he runs and where between now and then is to be determined. The Grade 1, $600,000 Forego, a seven-furlong race at Saratoga on Aug. 26, is one possible spot.