Marconi wins the Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont Park
Chad B. Harmon
· By Christine Oser
Since returning from a lengthy layoff, Marconi has successfully stretched out and taken three consecutive stakes races. The 4-year-old Tapit colt made the grade for the first time June 8 in the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Brooklyn Invitational Stakes (G2), the last of 13 races on the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) undercard at Belmont Park.
"It seems like he's really found his niche. He's gradually improving and been a lot more consistent in not only his races, but also training," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "I was happy to see him continue moving forward.
The effort has Pletcher considering the July 6 Suburban Stakes (G2) going 1 1/4 miles at Belmont for Marconi's next start.
"A prestigious race like that would mean a lot for him," he said.
Like the Belmont Stakes, the Brooklyn is contested at 1 1/2 miles, but for 4-year-olds and up. Marconi and jockey Jose Lezcano went straight to the lead and set an easy pace with fractions of :25.16, :50.87, 1:16.17, and 1:40.45 through the first mile. You're to Blame, Marconi's stablemate, was a close second.
When the eight horses turned for home, You're to Blame did not kick on with Marconi, but Realm moved up from fourth and nearly drew even with the leader. Marconi put away Realm but then had a fast-closing challenger in Rocketry to hold off.
Marconi dug in and finished a half-length ahead of the proven marathon runner. The final time was 2:28.97 over a fast track.
"He broke a little slow. He was looking around a little bit, but after that, I sent him and let him gallop alone on the lead," Lezcano said. "When I asked at the three-sixteenths pole, he gave me everything he had and went on to win the race. I wanted to be close. When the other Pletcher horse came to me, I wouldn't give him the lead."
Realm, Campaign, You're to Blame, Sonneteer, Biblical, and War Story completed the order of finish.
"The plan wasn't to be on the front, but we wanted him to be in the race," Pletcher said of Marconi. "Especially from the one hole, I didn't want him to be shuffled back and overcomplicate things for him. Once Jose was able to establish that spot, the fractions were very reasonable. He kept finding a way to get it done."
Marconi was bred in Kentucky by Brushwood Stable out of the stakes-winning Ponche mare Ponche de Leona, most notably the dam of Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man . Marconi's full sister Southern Girl is also a stakes winner at Laurel Park.
Campaigned by Bridlewood Farm and Coolmore's Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor, Marconi was a $2 million purchase from the Eaton Sales consignment to the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He's earned back $424,702 total to date including his Brooklyn performance, which improved his record to 4-1-1 from nine starts.
After three starts on the Kentucky Derby trail in 2018, Marconi was on the shelf for 10 months before returning to the races in February. He was fourth in allowance optional claiming Feb. 6 at Gulfstream Park before scoring in the March 29 Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream and May 9 Flat Out Stakes at Belmont.