Bruton Street-US’s Moscato solidified his position as the year’s top novice with a gutsy 3 1/2-length victory over longshot New Member on Thursday in Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. PathFinder Racing’s Mutassawy passed tiring newcomer Lachares to claim third money in the 2 1/4-mile race on Belmont’s inner turf course.
Oakwood Stable’s Kensington Court laid down the early pace under Mark Watts with a clear advantage over Lachares and Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, while Moscato and Armata Stables’ New Member ambled along at the back of the field.
As the field approached the last of eight fences on Belmont’s backstretch, Danny Mullins took the outside route with 33-to-1 New Member, temporarily sealing Moscato behind tiring front-runners.
But Sean McDermott sent Moscato around the slowing Kensington Court on the turn and guided his mount to daylight on the inside entering Belmont’s stretch. They surged to the lead without allowing New Member to grab the advantage.
Mullins, a top Irish jockey visiting for the Belmont races, worked hard on New Member to stay head-to-head with Moscato, but the winner opened a length at the furlong pole and edged away to the finish line.
Sent to the starter as the prohibitive 7-to-10 favorite, Moscato paid $3.40 to win after running the Entenmann Memorial’s distance in a course-record 3:56.56 on firm turf. His time knocked more than five seconds off Belmont’s previous mark for 2 1/4 miles, 4:02.26, set by Popular Gigalo in 1999.
Under the care of leading trainer Jack Fisher, Moscato now has three wins and two seconds from five U.S. starts this year. He leads the novice standings with purse earnings of $156,000.
A maiden over fences when he arrived this spring, the Hernando gelding ran away to an easy victory at the Queen’s Cup, his second U.S. start, and led every step of an allowance hurdle at the Iroquois Steeplechase in May.
He was second in his first stakes start, Saratoga Race Course’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 26. Fisher said he had the worse of a bumping incident in that race. But he rebounded with a crushing victory in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 23. “His last race he demolished them, and this [the Entenmann] is obviously the next best step,” Fisher said.
McDermott said Moscato’s stamina allows him to set the pace or come from behind. “He has an abundance of stamina and he can gallop on for a long time,” the Irish-born jockey said. “He generally burns them off. I was surprised he got off the bridle that early, but he’s very honest and very tough.”