2023 John A Nerud Stakes and Dwyer Stakes Recap

Opportunity knocked on several previously unopened doors at Belmont Park on Saturday, notably in the 2023 John A Nerud Stakes when both winner Three Technique and his trainer Jason Cook were signing for their first win at Graded level. Elsewhere, west-coast shipper Fort Bragg finally enjoyed a day in the sun when making his stakes breakthrough by a nose in the G3 Dwyer.

Breeders Cup Odds

2023 John A Nerud Stakes

G2, $250,000, 7f dirt, 4yo+

Three has rivals’ number

There was a notable double in the John A. Nerud, the feature at Belmont Park on Saturday, when Three Technique made his Graded-stakes breakthrough – comfortably seeing off rank outsider Synthesis and Candy Man Rocket – and also provided trainer Jason Cook with his first success at Graded level.

Three Technique had finished third in this race in 2021 and improved considerably on that showing, the 5-1 third-choice sitting off the pace set by Little Vic before moving powerfully to the lead in mid-stretch, running down Candy Man Rocket and drawing right off to win by three and three-quarter lengths. Synthesis rallied hard to fill the place slot by a head from second-choice Candy Man Rocket, but the favored Weyburn was a big disappointment, trailing the field throughout.

“I had to wait and wait,” said winning jockey Javier Castellano. “But as soon as I tipped him to the outside he took off running.”

Three Technique was maintaining his record of never being off the board at Belmont, this being his seventh race at the Big Sandy. He is not as effective at Saratoga, though, and Cook will point him elsewhere this summer. 

John A. Nerud Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Three Technique13.606.403.60
2. Synthesis18.807.20
3. Candy Man Rocket3.30

Winning time: 1m 22.88s

Dwyer Stakes

G3, $200,000, 1m dirt, 3yo

Fort earns bragging rights

There was also a breakout performance in the Dwyer as Fort Bragg signed for his first victory at stakes level at the fifth attempt, prevailing after a thrilling duel with Saudi Crown that took the pair a long way clear of Harrodsburg.

The 3-5 favorite stalked the sizzling fractions laid down by second-choice Saudi Crown and hooked up with the trailblazer around the turn, and they came down the stretch in lockstep. Fort Bragg got to the lead at the eighth pole but Saudi Crown kept throwing punches and there was only a nose in it at the wire, with a yawning 11-length gap back to Harrodsburg in third.

“At the quarter pole I thought I had him easy,” said winning jockey John Velazquez. “But the other horse kept fighting – I was like ‘hey, don’t let him come back, pay attention!’.”

Fort Bragg had come up short in four Graded stakes since breaking his maiden, but this was a career-best and trainer Bob Baffert will look to move him up again, with the G1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga on August 26 on the table for the colt’s next start.

Dwyer Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Fort Bragg3.402.202.10
2. Saudi Crown2.602.10
3. Harrodsburg2.80

Winning time: 1m 35.37s

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