Uncle Benny rewards Servis' faith with Futurity victory
Courtesy of David Grening of DRF.com
ELMONT, NY – Jason Servis was a big fan of Uncle Benny from the first time he saw him.
Unable to purchase him initially at auction due to financial constraints, Servis convinced owner Ara Aprahamian to go over budget to buy the son of Declaration of War after he did not attain his reserve at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton yearling sale in Saratoga. Servis purchased him privately for $180,000, $50,000 more than his last bid at the sale.
“I put my neck out there,” Servis said.
Servis’ faith in the horse was rewarded Sunday at Belmont Park when Uncle Benny rallied from last under Irad Ortiz Jr. to win the $150,000 Futurity Stakes by a half-length over 56-1 longshot Backtohisroots at Belmont Park. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to the filly Dragic, the 3-1 favorite in the 11-horse field.
The Futurity, which had its first 126 runnings on dirt, was moved to the turf this year. Though it lost its graded status, it was designated a Win and You’re In race for the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs.
Servis said he’s not sure if he wants to cut Uncle Benny back to 5 1/2 furlongs, the distance of the Turf Sprint. He said he may also pre-enter him in the $1 million Juvenile Turf at a mile.
Distance looked like no issue for Uncle Benny on Sunday as he was last after bumping with Swamp Rat out of the gate. Instead of trying to rush him, Ortiz opted to try and save ground.
Uncle Benny was 11 lengths back after the opening quarter and eight lengths back after Joyful Heart ran an opening half-mile in 46.40 seconds.
Ortiz gradually advanced Uncle Benny to the outside approaching the quarter pole and had just Swamp Rap beat turning for home. Meanwhile, Real Money had taken over the lead from Joyful Heart.
While Uncle Benny was turning on the jets he had to run by Dragic, who had taken the lead from Real Money, and outfinish Backtohisroots to get the victory.
“On the turn I asked him, he was picking it up really good,” Ortiz said. “I saw some traffic on the inside, I tipped him out and by the top of the stretch when I hit him he started running. He gave me a good feeling and he got there on time.”
Uncle Benny covered the six furlongs over a Widener turf course labeled “good” in 1:11.26 and returned $12.60 as the 5-1 co-second choice in the field of 11.
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