Saturday, July 16, 2011

Decennial rewards faithful at Belmont

Justifying her post-time odds of 7/5, Decennial waited patiently, then kicked home strongly under Ramon Dominguez Friday at Belmont for a worst-to-first performance that resulted in her third win in four tries on turf.

The chestnut filly was unplaced in her career debut on the inner dirt at Aqueduct. Since trainer Carlos Martin moved her to the grass, she hasn't failed to finish worse than third.

On this day, Decennial entered the race as the 5/2 morning-line favorite. But I had my doubts that she was much better than several others in the eight-horse field, at least based on speed figures. The Belmont betting public liked her chances, though, and sent Decennial off as by far the favorite, with no other horse at lower than 4/1 odds.

Dominguez and Decennial settled in last place through opening fractions of 22.51 and 46 flat set by second-favored and Argentine-bred To The Point. They were sixth after three-quarters run in 1:10.22, had to swing four-wide on the turn for home, and were still in fourth about a furlong from the finish.

Just when I was afraid she might flatten out and come up short, Decennial switched leads for Dominguez and found a new gear with a sixteenth to go. She won by a widening 1 3/4 with a final time of 1:34.77 for a mile.

I tabbed the Florida-bred daughter of Trippi-Romantic Dinner, by Who's For Dinner, at last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training, where she went for just $26,000 as Hip 349. She has now earned $53,500 for owners Blue Devil Racing Stable.

The filly is one of three from the same immediate female family that I endorsed at OBSAPR 2010. She is actually a half-sister to the dams of both RIGOLETTA ($35,000 as Hip 725, Oak Leaf S.-G1, etc., $184,070) and GOURMET DINNER ($40,000 Hip 277, Delta Downs Jackpot S.-G3, etc., $989,660). Decennial and Gourmet Dinner are particularly closely related, as both are sired by Trippi.

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