From the NYRA Media Team:
Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong was the only New York-bred entered in the Grade 2, $150,000 Remsen, but showed capability at open company with a hard fought triumph by a neck over 6-5 post time favorite Ten for Ten in Saturday’s nine-furlong event for 2-year-olds at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The bay gelding, who won the Sleepy Hollow last out at Belmont Park against his Empire State-bred counterparts, broke sharply under jockey Joel Rosario and was three wide into the turn as Ten for Ten led the tightly-packed five-horse field through an opening quarter-mile of 23.67 seconds and the half in 47.86 over the sloppy and sealed main track.
Rosario lightly nudged Brooklyn Strong as the field approached the far turn, and advanced into second through three-quarters in 1:12.69 with Ten for Ten still to catch.
Just outside the eighth pole, Brooklyn Strong was on even terms with the pacesetter as the two battled out the final furlong. Ten for Ten proved stubborn, but Brooklyn Strong got in front at the right time with a neck victory in 1:50.60. Known Agenda was another 8 ¾ lengths back in third. Pickin’ Time and Erawan completed the order of finish.
The top four finishers earned 10-4-2-1 points toward the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, scheduled for May 1, 2021 at Churchill Downs.
Brooklyn Strong provided a first graded stakes triumph for trainer Daniel Velazquez as well as the first United States graded stakes win for his second crop sire Wicked Strong, who captured the 2014 Wood Memorial at the Big A.
Rosario said he had to work to maintain position early in the in the race.
“I broke well and it looked like they were running away from me a little bit, so I had to ride him to get position,” said Rosario. “I didn’t want to let him fall back, so I rode him to stay within a couple of lengths. I was happy with how he was progressing, and I was confident he was going to have something left for the end.”
The veteran rider said Brooklyn Strong was determined down the lane as they attempted to reel in Ten for Ten, who was purchased for $400,000 at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“He was responding to me and I didn’t know how much horse I had, but I felt like we were moving very well,” added Rosario regarding the stretch run. “I was confident he would keep moving forward. I had to ride him a little bit.”
Velazquez expressed optimism that Brooklyn Strong could get both the distance and a win over a wet track.
“I was very confident going in,” Velazquez said. “I knew the distance was key and I was confident about the off track. I was happy with his performance. He really dug in. Today was a big showcase for him against tougher competition and I couldn’t be happier.
“It’s tough. They paid a lot of money for him [Ten for Ten] and we paid $5,000,” Velazquez added. “You start to second guess yourself, but I knew he had the heart to grind it out.”
Brooklyn Strong returned $16.20 on a $2 win bet and enhanced his lifetime earnings to $195,000 through a 4-3-0-1 record.
Bred in New York by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, Brooklyn Strong is out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic and was a $5,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training from the Coastal Equine consignment.
“We’ll come back healthy and then start picking our spots,” Velazquez said. “This is a big prep for the Derby moving forward. Now, we’re definitely Derby dreaming.”
Live racing resumes Sunday at the Big A with a nine-race card, highlighted by the $100,000 Garland of Roses for fillies and mares on the main track going six furlongs as well as two divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes Series, each worth $250,000, including the NYSSS Fifth Avenue at seven furlongs for 2-year-old fillies and the NYSSS Great White Way for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.