Caixa Eletronica came flying down the middle of the stretch Saturday afternoon to collar Justin Phillip in the final yards and win the 34th running of the Grade 2, $400,000 True North Handicap at Belmont Park.
Last of eight as Pacific Ocean led through a sizzling opening quarter-mile in 21.80 seconds, Caixa Eletronica was still almost 12 lengths behind Justin Phillip when he took command at the top of the stretch. Asked for run by jockey Javier Castellano in midstretch, the 7-year-old son of Arromanches responded with a powerful late kick that carried him under the wire in 1:09.52 for the six furlongs, three-quarters of a length ahead of Justin Phillip.
“The race set up perfectly for me,” said Castellano. “The fractions were what I was hoping for and when I asked him to run, he responded great. He never gave up down the stretch, too.”
Claimed for $62,500 last March by trainer Todd Pletcher for Mike Repole, Caixa Eletronica is 6-0-3 in 12 starts for his new connections. Most recently he was fourth behind Shackleford, Caleb’s Posse and To Honor and Serve in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 28.
“Running him back on 12 days rest after running against Jackson Bend, Shackleford, Caleb’s Posse … and he comes back here,” said Repole. “He was flying. He was down by 22 lengths and I thought, ‘Maybe running back in 12 days after the Met Mile was not so smart.’”
Sent off as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite, Caixa Eletronica returned $9.20 for a $2 win bet as he extended his record to 18-7-11 from 58 starts. The winner’s purse of $240,000 lifted his earnings to $1,395,705, including a victory in April’s Grade 2, $1 million Charles Town Classic.
“This is what horse racing is about,” said Repole. “This is a throwback horse to the ‘60s and ‘70s. How can you not root for this horse?”
Justin Phillip was three-quarters of a length ahead of Smiling Tiger, who was followed under the wire by Hamazing Destiny, Crossbow, Pacific Ocean, and Royal Currier.
Giant Ryan was pulled up approaching the eighth pole and vanned off. According to Dr. Larry Bramlage, American Association of Equine Practitioners, X-rays showed that Giant Ryan fractured both left front sesamoids and sustained ligament damage in the back of his left front ankle. His injuries were being evaluated.