The striking 4-year-old gray son of Unbridled’s Song did not debut until January, 2013, when he went sent off as the odds-on favorite going 6 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream Park. He did not disappoint, coming from just off the pace to win by 1 ¾ lengths, and next added a 7 ½-length optional claiming win, also at Gulfstream.
Sent out against some of the top older horses in the country, he earned a career-high 116 Beyer Speed Figure in finishing second to Flat Out in the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont Park, and was then caught right at the wire by Sahara Sky in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, losing by a nose.
He finally notched a well-deserved Grade 1 score with a three-quarter length win over Successful Dan and Mucho Macho Man in the Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3 at Saratoga Race Course.
This will be the second Belmont starter for Dogwood Stable’s Cot Campbell, whose Impeachment finished fifth in 2000. The 85-year-old Campbell, a former advertising executive, formulated the idea of racing partnerships in 1969 and never looked back. Prominent Dogwood runners include 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall, whose daughter, Eclipse Award winner Storm Song won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1996. Other top horses campaigned by Dogwood include 2007 Acorn winner Cotton Blossom, 2005 Brooklyn winner Limehouse and multiple graded stakes winners Trippi and Wallenda. A member of the Jockey Club, Campbell received an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2010. He has written three books: Lightning in a Jar, Rascals and Racehorses, and Memoirs of a Longshot.
Pletcher will try for his second Belmont Stakes victory this year, having captured the 2007 edition when Rags to Riches became the first filly in 102 years to win the race, defeating eventual Horse of the Year Curlin by head. Pletcher’s previous 11 Belmont starters include Impeachment, who was fifth in 2000, and runners-up Bluegrass Cat (2006), Dunkirk (2009) and Stay Thirsty (2011). A five-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top trainer, Pletcher won his first Kentucky Derby in 2010 with Super Saver. Pletcher trained champions Ashado, English Channel, Fleet Indian, Lawyer Ron, Left Bank, Rags to Riches, Shanghai Bobby, Speightstown, Wait a While, and Uncle Mo. Pletcher has won 27 NYRA meet titles including three straight at Saratoga from 2010-2012, and was the leading trainer on the circuit in 2003, 2004, and 2010.
Smith won his first Belmont Stakes aboard Drosselmeyer in 2010, 20 years after finishing second aboard Thirty Six Red in the 1990 edition. Last year he finished second aboard Paynter in his 14th Belmont appearance. Other Triple Crown victories for the 2003 Hall of Fame inductee are the 1993 Preakness, aboard Prairie Bayou, and the 2005 Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo. Based in California since 2000, Smith was the leading rider in New York from 1991-93 and won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 1993 and 1994. Smith was the regular rider for 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull, 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri and the beloved champion Zenyatta, who won 19 times in 20 starts. In 2009, he was featured on the Animal Planet cable network’s reality series “Jockeys.”
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