2023 Westchester Stakes & Sheepshead Bay Stakes Recap

A fantastic weekend of racing at Belmont Park kicked off with two fantastic contests, the G3 2023 Westchester Stakes & G2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes

In this year’s renewal of the Sheepshead Stakes, the Christophe Clement trained Amazing Grace was hoping to build on her debut victory in the 2023 Orchid Stakes with a second successive graded victory.

With only four runners heading down to post, both Chad Brown and Clement trained two of the four runners apiece and it was one of Brown’s horses who would end up getting on top.

Higher Truth, who was only having her second run in the past year, was able to build on her gutsy second place finish in the 2023 Very One Stakes to win by two lengths. Dictating the fractions from the front, she burned up the finishing straight leaving her three other rivals trailing in her dust.

In the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes seven horses headed to post, where Zandon was hoping to make it a day to remember for trainer Brown. 

The clear favorite for the race, he headed into the contest winless in his last five starts, desperate to change that record and despite his best efforts, he couldn’t reverse his fortunes and had to settle for second place once again. 

The Jamie Ness trained Repo Rocks headed into the race having had a four-race win streak recently snapped in the 2023 Grade 1 Carter Handicap. Finishing second that day, he bounced back in style, winning this 2023 Westchester Stakes by four widening lengths. Showing his rivals a clean set of hoofs, his dominant victory showed that he is a horse worthy of future Grade 1 considerations.

Sheepshead Bay Stakes

Grade 2, 1 mile and 3/8, Turf, open to fillies and mares aged four and over. Total prize pool: $200,000

  1. Higher Truth +250
  2. Virginia Joy +350

Winning time: 2:23.47

Adverse weather saw only four runners head to post for this year’s Sheapshed Stakes. With Chad Brown and Christophe Clement training all four runners in the race, the race was fascinatingly poised. 

Starting the race as the favorite was the Clement trained Amazing Grace who was looking to back up her debut American win in this year’s Orchid Stakes.

In what was expected to be a tight race, it was Higher Truth and jockey Manny Franco who led through the early stages. 

With the other three jockeys happy to give Higher Truth the lead, she would maintain her position until she hit the home turn. Still in the lead with just a couple of furlongs left to run, Franco sensed an opportunity and asked Higher Truth to go and win her race. 

Kicking off the home turn, Franco and Higher Truth quickly put a couple of lengths between herself and the rest of the field. 

Caught out by the sudden injection in pace, the other three runners in the field were unable to close the gap. The gate to wire victory from Higher Truth suggested that her recent injury woes look to be firmly behind her, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her compete for some big prizes this summer.

2023 Sheepshead Bay Stakes Payouts

PositionHorseWinPlace
1Higher Truth$4.50$3.00
2Virginia Joy $3.30

Westchester Stakes

Grade 3, 1 mile, Dirt, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool: $175,000

  1. Repo Rocks +450
  2. Zandon +200
  3. Weyburn +800

Winning time: 1:34.96

Chad Brown headed into this year’s Westchester Stakes hoping to make it a graded double on the day after his success with Higher Truth in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes.

The trainer of the favorite Zandon, Brown was hoping this year’s Westchester would see his former Grade 1 winner end his five-race losing streak. 

However, despite Zandon’s best efforts, he would prove to be no match for the Jamie Ness trained Repo Rocks as he romped to an easy victory.

Happy to sit just off the pace, Repo Rocks’ jockey Ruben Silvera made his move around the home turn. 

Showing the rest of his rivals a clean set of heels, Silvera and Repo Rocks bounded off the final turn and set sail for home. Despite some classy horses being in the race, the turn of foot from Repo Rocks was devastating and none of his rivals were able to find a response. 

Careering down the home straight, his winning margin got larger and larger, and he would go onto win the race by four lengths. 

Zandon rallied for yet another second placed finish, whilst Weyburn did his best work late on to nab third.

2023 Westchester Stakes Payouts

PositionHorseWinPlaceShow
1Repo Rocks$12.00$4.10$2.90
2Zandon $2.70$2.20
3Weyburn  $3.80

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