ELMONT, N.Y. – They have taken turns beating each other in the New York-bred male turf division all year long with different winners in each of the three traditional stakes run on this circuit. While those three horses – Black Tide, Offering Plan, and Kharafa – are all entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Mohawk Stakes at Belmont Park, perhaps it will be somebody else’s turn to visit the winner’s circle.
Rapt was second to Offering Plan in the Kingston, third behind Kharafa and Offering Plan in the West Point, and a better-than-it-looks eighth to Black Tide in the Ashley T. Cole. Rapt is a closer who, with a clear run, has license to surprise at a price for trainer Robert Ribaudo.
In the Cole, Rapt, who was able to save ground despite breaking from the extreme outside in the 11-horse field, was making his typical late run under Manny Franco when Tapitation came out on him in midstretch. Ribaudo said Rapt gets intimidated when he’s between horses and didn’t finish as well as he could have, yet was only beaten 2 1/2 lengths.
“He lost his momentum,” Ribaudo said. “He was making a nice run. Not to get a check there was disappointing. Manny knows him better, and he needs to make that move on the outside.”
Rapt will break from the inside in the Mohawk.
Rapt finished third behind Black Tide and Offering Plan in this race last year. Black Tide and Offering Plan finished 1-2 in the Cole last month with Black Tide, as he always does, running off to a huge advantage while holding the late-running Offering Plan at bay late.
Though 11 were entered in the Mohawk, only eight were entered to run on turf. Black Tide will again try to take this field gate to wire. Trainer David Cannizzo said he’s confident the 6-year-old gelding will be able to do just that under Jose Lezcano.
“He came out of the other race great, he’s doing very good going into this,” Cannizzo said. “I know it’s back on short rest, but he’s ready to fire.”
Offering Plan rarely fails to fire. He won the Kingston over this same group in May and was a good second in each of the last two races in the division. He will break from the outside under Javier Castellano as the co-highweight at 123 pounds with Kharafa.
Kharafa won this race in 2014 and was beaten a head in 2015. In the Cole, he finished sixth, beaten two lengths for all the money, and a nose behind Red Knight who is back in this spot.
La Moneda tops Ticonderoga
Trainer Tom Morley spoke with glee as the wind whipped through the Belmont Park backstretch Thursday morning. Morley is hoping the wind can help dry out what has been a good-to-yielding turf course throughout the first five weeks of the Belmont fall meet.
Morley sends out La Moneda as the likely favorite in the $200,000 Ticonderoga Stakes for New York-bred females and said he would like to see the turf “as firm as possible on Saturday.”
La Moneda brings a four-race winning streak into the Ticonderoga, her most recent win being a neck decision over Lady Joan in the Yaddo on Aug. 24 at Saratoga. Though the course was listed as firm that day, Morley said “it was a drying out, tacky track that day. I do believe she’s better on a firm surface.”
What Morley liked most about La Moneda’s performance that day was she was able to win a close decision.
“She really had to dig deep to run down [Lady Joan] and hold off [Fifty Five] as well,” Morley said. “I know that fight’s in there if she needs it, and I’m sure she’ll need it on Saturday.”
Morley said he kept La Moneda out of last month’s John Hettinger Stakes due to her having run four times from June 9 through Aug. 24.
Fifty Five won the Hettinger as the 4-5 favorite, and she is the main threat to La Moneda. Fifty Five, trained by Chad Brown, won the Ticonderoga last year and lost the Mount Vernon and Yaddo stakes by a neck.
Lady Joan suffered a tough neck loss to La Moneda in the Yaddo and then came back to finish third behind Fifty Five and Munchkin Money in the Hettinger.
“She ran three times at Saratoga and ran her eyeballs out in the Yaddo then came back a little quick [in the Hettinger], and I still thought ran a good race,” trainer Phil Serpe said. “She’s moved forward going into this race, she’s going to need to do that to beat those two fillies.”
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
Visit DRF.com for additional news, notes, wagering information, and more.