Ralph M. Evans and Lauren Evans’ New York-bred millionaire Diversify went wire to wire to post a 6 ½-length victory in a competitive, 132nd renewal of the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban at 1 ¼ miles on Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Day at Belmont Park.
Diversify, breaking from post 9 with jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard, was joined on the front end by War Story and Zanotti as he led the field of 10 through an opening quarter mile in 23.47 seconds and the half in 46.18. The gelding shook clear of his nearest competition in the far turn and, finding themselves with a 6 ½-length advantage at the top of the stretch, Ortiz and Diversify continued strongly down the lane to return $14 for a $2 win wager.
“My plan was to break and go,” said Ortiz. “I broke good, I sent him, and he took me the whole way. He was traveling perfect. I just went from there and started moving and he responded very well. He went fast, and he gave me another gear at the quarter pole.”
The Lieutenant closed well for second, finishing two lengths ahead of Discreet Lover in third. Hoppertunity, winner of the Grade 2 Brooklyn on Belmont Stakes Day last time out, was fourth.
An impressive winner of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont last fall, Diversify marked his return to graded stakes company in memorable fashion, completing the classic distance in a solid 1:59.84 while breaking seven figures in career earnings.
The win was the second straight for Diversify, following a nose score in the Commentator for state-breds on May 28. In the Suburban, he improved his local record to six wins from eight starts over Big Sandy. Overall, the Rick Violette, Jr. trainee boasts nine wins and two seconds from 14 starts. With the $375,000 winner’s share of the Suburban purse, Diversify pushed his career earnings to $1,309,425.
“We were meant to be aggressive and Irad told me when he realized it was Zanotti and War Story [chasing him], he kind of just stepped on the gas,” said Violette. “He did it pretty comfortably. I think this is his best race ever. He beat some nice horses, withstood some serious pressure, fast fractions, and he obviously loves Belmont.”
Violette added that Diversify may be under consideration for the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney at 1 1/8 miles on August 4 and/or the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on September 1, both at 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga Race Course.
“We have five weeks to the Whitney off his lifetime best I think,” Violette said. “There’s also the Woodward four weeks later in the meet. We’ll think about the fall as well. We would love to do the Whitney, but we’ll see how he comes back from this effort.”
Last year’s Belmont Stakes winner and post-time favorite Tapwrit was fifth, followed home by Zanotti, Take Your Guns, Sorry Erik, Dr. Dorr, and War Story to complete the order of finish. Name Changer was scratched.