ELMONT, N.Y. – As good as he looked on paper entering Saturday’s $100,000 Rockville Centre Stakes, La Fuerza looked even better winning the race for New York-breds as the 2-5 favorite at Belmont Park.
Manny Franco piloted La Fuerza to a 4 1/2-length win in Saturday's Rockville Centre Stakes at Belmont.
Shuffled back to last approaching the top of the stretch in the five-horse field, Manny Franco tipped La Fuerza four paths wide at the top of the lane and without being hit, La Fuerza glided to a 4 1/2-length victory over Bustin Mach Four. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Red Zinger in third. Hushion and What the Luck completed the order of finish.
There were two foul claims in the race. Dylan Davis, who had to steady second-choice What the Luck at the quarter pole, claimed foul against Bustin Mach Four for interference. Mike Luzzi, the rider of fourth-place finisher Hushion, claimed foul against Joel Rosario and third-place finisher Red Zinger. Both foul claims were dismissed.
La Fuerza, named for a wine made at the Jonata Winery in Southern California – Jonata is the dam of La Fuerza – is now 2 for 2. In his debut, La Fuerza overcame a bad start and made an eye-catching middle move to win by 7 3/4 lengths.
Saturday, Franco was attempting to save ground on La Fuerza while sitting just behind a modest pace set by Hushion and pressed by Bustin Mach Four. When Red Zinger made a four-wide move to the leaders around the turn, Franco let him go by before swinging to the outside.
“Joel was in my sights, I knew he was going to move to try and keep me in there, so I say 'Let me grab my horse now and take him to the outside,'” Franco said. “I got shuffled a little bit, but I knew I had horse.”
La Fuerza, a son of Flatter owned by Barry Schwartz and trained by Todd Pletcher, covered the six furlongs in 1:12.27 and returned $2.90.
Schwartz said La Fuerza would likely get a chance against open company in a race like the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on Aug. 12.
“I don’t breed these horses for New York-bred races,” Schwartz said. “He’s out of a Kentucky mare by a Kentucky stallion, why do you have to think New York-bred?”