Gidu returned $2.90 as the 2-5 favorite in the Paradise Creek at Belmont on Saturday.
In a race that likely earned him a trip to England and the Group 1 Commonwealth Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting in June, Gidu held off a late run from Curlin’s Honor to win Saturday’s $100,000 Paradise Creek Stakes by a neck at Belmont Park.
It was one length back to Masked in third. Ambassador Jim and Black Stetson completed the order of finish in the compact five-horse field.
For Gidu, it was his third win from five starts with two runner-up performances. Prior to the race, trainer Todd Pletcher said he and owner Ahmed Zayat said a good performance Saturday would earn Gidu a trip to the Commonwealth, a six-furlong race that is run on a straight course on June 22.
“Coming into this we were thinking about going to Ascot if this went well, and it went well enough to continue to consider that,” Pletcher said.
Gidu, a son of the magnificent Great Britain-bred Frankel, had not run in 11 weeks, or since taking the Columbia Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 10.
Velazquez was expecting to sit third behind Masked and Black Stetson, but only Masked went for the lead. Velazquez hustled Gidu to be second and stalked Masked through a half-mile in 22.05 seconds and a half-mile in 44.31.
Gidu had to work to get by Masked, which he did at the sixteenth pole, but then Curlin’s Honor, under Javier Castellano, was coming. Gidu held him at bay for the victory.
Gidu covered the seven furlongs in 1:20.44 over firm turf and returned $2.90 as the 2-5 favorite and getting an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He hadn’t run since Tampa, so he was a little more keen than I wanted him to be, but he put up a good fight,” Velazquez said. “Nice horse, he just needs to relax a little bit.”
Added Pletcher: “He kept finding a little more. I thought it was a good race considering he hadn’t run in a while.”