06/09/2016 3:39PM

Suffused has no problem with Belmont Coronation distance

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Barbara D. Livingston
Suffused, under Jose Ortiz, wins the 1 15/16-mile Belmont Coronation Invitational on Thursday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Bill Mott wasn't sure what to expect from Suffused coming into the $200,000 Belmont Coronation Invitational on Thursday. In her first two United States starts, he had run her 1 3/8 miles and 1 1/16 miles with only modest success, and now he was stretching her out to the unusual distance of 1 15/16 miles.

A little less than 3 1/2 minutes after the six-horse field was sent on its way, Mott was pleasantly surprised. Suffused relaxed well for jockey Jose Ortiz, then kicked on strongly to win by 4 3/4 lengths.

"We had run her long the first time in Florida and she kind of hung a little, so we thought maybe she doesn't want the distance," Mott said. "We brought her to Belmont and shortened her up, and she didn't want any part of that, so I wasn't sure what she would do today."

Suffused, a 4-year-old bred in Great Britain by her owner, Juddmonte Farms, is now 4 for 11 with earnings of $186,019. The Belmont Coronation is her first stakes win.

Suffused paid $11.60 as the third betting choice. She was timed in 3:23.26 over good turf. It is believed to be the first time a race has been run at 1 15/16 miles over the Belmont turf.

Brandybend, who is based in Great Britain with Marco Botti, went to the front in the marathon and was rated on an open lead by Florent Geroux, who took a long hold of the 4-year-old. Suffused and Ortiz bided their time mid-pack.

Nearing the third and final turn, Al Khazaaliya and 2-1 favorite Generosidade moved up to challenge two and three wide. Nearing the stretch, Ortiz gave Suffused her head and she accelerated and cut the corner into the straightaway. Suffused drove to the lead outside Brandybend in upper stretch and pulled away nicely.

Achnaha, last early, rallied around horses into the stretch to be second, three lengths ahead of third-place Generosidade. Brandybend finished fourth.

In her next start, Suffused will likely have to run a more traditional marathon distance of 1 1/2 miles or 1 3/8 miles.

"There aren't many 1 15/16-mile races out there," Mott said.

* Martin Panza, senior vice president of racing operations for the New York Racing Association, said the Belmont Coronation was run at 1 15/16 miles rather than at the two-mile distance of the Belmont Gold Cup for 4-year-olds and up on Friday because it was held on the inner turf and not the outer Widener turf course, as the Gold Cup will be.

A second stakes on Thursday, the Intercontinental, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares, was held on the Widener turf.

"I wanted to run the Inercontinental on the Widener course, and in case it rained I wanted to be able to run both that race and the Belmont Coronation," Panza said. "To make sure we could do that, we put the Coronation on the inner turf, and we can only run 1 15/16 miles there."