By Brian Bohl, New York Racing Association publicity department (Coglianese photo)
ELMONT, N.Y. – Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin’s No Parole took no prisoners and remained undefeated in sprints, breaking sharply from the inside post and leading at every point-of-call before surging home to a 3 3/4-length victory in the seven-furlong Grade 1, $250,000 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm at Belmont Park.
The first of six graded stakes on a loaded Belmont Stakes Day card – and one of four Grade 1s – the 36th running of the Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds saw the Churchill Downs-based No Parole shoot out of the gate under jockey Luis Saez, leading the five-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.31 seconds, the half in 45.01 and three-quarters in 1:08.62 on a fast main track.
No Parole stayed to the inside out of the turn and drew away from the competition, besting runner-up Echo Town and posting a final time of 1:21.42 in the gate-to-wire win for his second straight victory.
The Violence colt improved to 4-for-4 in sprints and won for the fifth time in six starts overall.
“He did it perfect. [Speed] was the game plan,” Saez said. “You always want to slow the pace as much as you can, and today they gave me the opportunity, so we took it. I think it worked pretty good.
“He came out of the gate perfect and he put me in a perfect spot,” he added. “We came to the half-mile and I had a lot of horse. When we hit the stretch, he took off. I was sitting chilly and I knew I had a lot of horse. When everyone got close to him [turning for home], he took off again.”
Bred in Louisiana by Coteau Grove Farms, No Parole started his career with three straight wins, following a pair of six-furlong triumphs with a 6 1/2-furlong victory in the one-mile Premier Night Prince in February at Delta Downs. Amoss stretched him out to 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Rebel in March, where he finished eighth, before cutting him back to six furlongs next out, where he topped allowance company on April 24 at Oaklawn Park.
Amoss said No Parole has found a comfort level in one-turn races and said he was already thinking about a potential Breeders’ Cup spot in November at Keeneland.
“I think No Parole’s game is his speed,” Amoss said. “He’s shown that in all his races. To be able to draw the inside and take advantage of that with a good rider like Saez, everything played out as we hoped.
“No Parole is a one-turn horse for sure,” he added. “We’ll get together with the ownership and we’ll sit down and map out a plan. We’re very excited about his future and we’re already thinking about the first weekend in November.”
Off at 3-1, No Parole returned $8.20 on a $2 win wager. He nearly doubled his career earnings to $295,366.
Echo Town, making his graded stakes debut for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, was 1 ¾-lengths the better of stablemate Shoplifted for second. The Speightstown colt, owned by L and N Racing, has never finished out of the money, moving to 3-2-1 in six starts.
“He ran his race and made up ground good,” said Echo Town jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Mischevious Alex and Meru completed the order of finish.
Fittingly, the Woody Stephens is run on Belmont Stakes Day, as the race’s namesake trained a record five consecutive Belmont Stakes winners from 1982-86, with Conquistador Cielo, Caveat, Swale, Creme Fraiche and Danzig Connection. Stephens (1913-98) won the career Triple Crown, saddling Cannondale and Swale to Kentucky Derby wins and Blue Man to a win in the 1952 Preakness. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.