07/04/2009 12:00AM

Tagg makes the right call with Dry Martini

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Dry Martini rallies from far back to outfinish favored Asiatic Boy (left) and score a $23.60 upset in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on Saturday.

By David Grening

ELMONT, N.Y. - For most of the spring, trainer Barclay Tagg had the $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows on June 27 circled on his calendar for Dry Martini. Since the 6-year-old Dry Martini had won that race two years ago, Tagg thought it a good spot to try again.

But the more he studied the prospective field for the , the more Tagg began to think this Grade 2 race might set up perfectly for his late-running gray son of Slew Gin Fizz.

On Saturday, Tagg was proven right as Dry Martini, who saved ground while racing in the back of the pack, rallied stoutly under Edgar Prado down the center of the track to record a two-length win in the 123rd running of the Suburban at Belmont Park. Asiatic Boy, the 8-5 favorite and 122-pound highweight, finished second by a neck over Rising Moon. They were followed in the order of finish by Finallymadeit, Ready's Echo, Stud Muffin, It's a Bird, Cool Coal Man, Real Merchant, and Samhoon.

The victory was the ninth from 26 starts for Dry Martini and the $240,000 first-place purse pushed his career earnings to $1,152,406. He is owned by Carol Nyren.

"We thought it might work out and I hate to travel if I don't have to travel," said Tagg, who won the Suburban for the first time. "And I like to win these big races at Belmont before I get too old."

The race unfolded like Tagg hoped. Breaking from post 2, Prado and Dry Martini were able to secure an inside position down the backside while Finallymadeit, under Eduardo Nunez, set strong fractions of 24.28 seconds, 47.63, 1:11.39, and 135.73 for the mile.

Prado didn't ask Dry Martini to run until the three-furlong pole and he guided him off the rail turning for home. As Finallymadeit began to tire, Asiatic Boy appeared ready to take the lead, but Dry Martini exploded the last 100 yards. Dry Martini covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.80 and returned $23.60 to win.

"It worked out the way we planned it," said Prado, who also won the Grade 2 Dwyer with Kensei. "Just break, take a little hold and wait, save as much ground as possible, and hopefully pick up the pieces and come with a run. . . . Just a little traffic at the top of the stretch, but once he found his room he just leveled off and found another gear."

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Asiatic Boy, was pleased with his colt's race considering he was running back three weeks after finishing second in the Stephen Foster and was spotting the winner six pounds on Saturday.

A rematch is likely on tap in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 8.