05/29/2017 6:43PM

T Loves a Fight rallies to win Mike Lee Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
T Loves a Fight and jockey Kendrick Carmouche win the Mike Lee Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Mike Hushion said he was a little concerned “the way the front end was playing” over the sloppy track prior to sending T Loves a Fight out for Monday’s $125,000 Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont Park.

Fortunately, for Hushion, those fears proved to be unfounded after T Loves a Fight ran down pacesetting favorite Syndergaard en route to a convincing 2 1/4-length victory in the 3-year-old stakes for New York-breds.

With regular rider Kendrick Carmouche aboard, T Loves a Fight settled nicely near the rear of the scratch-reduced, six-horse field for the opening half-mile of the seven-furlong Mike Lee as Syndergaard cut out the early pace while pressed by Sal the Turtle and Pat On the Back.

T Loves a Fight began his rally approaching the stretch, came four wide to continue his bid, overtook the leader an eighth of a mile from home, and gradually edged away.

Syndergaard ran well in defeat, disposing of both early challengers, then briefly matching strides with the winner through midstretch before ultimately proving second-best, finishing 4 1/2 lengths in front of Pat On the Back. Blue Belt, Sal the Turtle, and Terry O Geri rounded out the order of finish.

The victory was the fourth in the last five starts and the first against stakes company for the former claimer T Loves a Fight, a homebred son of Girolamo owned by Hoffman Thoroughbreds. He completed the distance in 1:25.06 and paid $5.70.

“I was concerned about the way the track was playing, but he was so strong today he pretty much mowed ‘em down, didn’t he?” said Hushion, who won the Mike Lee for the third time in his career. “The owner says he’s kind of a blue-collar horse, and I’m OK with that one. He gets out there and fights.”

Hushion said he believes T Loves a Fight, who has yet to run beyond seven furlongs, can go a little farther, and he will experiment with that theory “down the road a bit.”

“We’ll approach two turns somewhere along the line, just maybe not two turns at Belmont Park,” said Hushion.

As for whether he’s thought about what would be next for T Loves a Fight, Hushion quickly replied, “Not a bit.”