News & Barn notes

Duarte Taking An Ambitious Shot With Subrogate In Saturday’s $150,000 Pegasus Stakes On Haskell Preview Day

June 14, 2023

In a bygone era, trainer Jorge Duarte, Jr., probably wouldn’t take a shot as ambitious as the one he’s going for in Saturday’s Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park, one of four stakes races on Haskell Preview Day.

But times have changed, so Subrogate, off two career starts – both in Maiden Special Weight company – will be in the starting gate for the $150,000 Pegasus, with an eye toward the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes on July 22.

“The way the game has been lately it’s not a big deal any more to try something like this with a lightly-raced horse,” said Duarte. “We’ve seen a lot of horses with just a few starts run big in major stakes races. Look at Mage. He won the Kentucky Derby in his fourth start.

“The game has completely changed. Back in the day you had to run a lot before you tried a major stakes race. We know this horse has talent. So we might as well take a shot and see where he’s at.”

A son of Arrogate-Goose Lemon Drop by Elusive Quality, Subrogate was unraced at 2. He finished second in his career debut at Aqueduct on April 8 to 3-5 Let Ride, then broke his maiden with a one-length victory at won at Belmont Park on May 6.

Now it’s the Pegasus Stakes, part of a stakes-packed card on Saturday that includes the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes, the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes and the Grade 3 Salvator Mile.

“This horse has been well regarded since we got him,” said Duarte, who trains exclusively for Colts Neck Stable. “We couldn’t quite get him ready at 2 but he’s ready now. Being an Arrogate, in the back of our mind we always wanted to try him 2 turns.

“He was just a little immature at 2. He’s a big, lengthy horse who looks like he can get the distance.”

Jevian Toledo, who has ridden Subrogate in both of his starts, said there is no doubt in his mind that the colt will relish the added distance.

“You always have questions with a horse that has only run two times, but he’s a big horse. You can tell he wants to go long,” he said. “It’s a step up but you’ve got to take a shot when you have a good horse.

“I know he has ability. He’s going to show us how much ability he has on Saturday. But you always want to think big, especially if you have a good one. That’s why we’re here.”

Duarte makes no secret about what the goal is for Subrogate: The $1 million Haskell.

“That’s one of the reasons we picked this spot,” he said. “If he handles two turns the way we think he will the next logical step is to try the Haskell. It’s not the craziest of thoughts the way the sport is now.”

Among the graded stakes on Saturday’s card, the $150,000 Eatontown Stakes, at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf for fillies and mares, 3 and up, serves as the prep for the $300,000, Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker on the Haskell undercard. The $150,000 Monmouth Stakes, at a mile and an eighth on the turf for 3 year olds and up, is the local prep for the Grade 1, $600,000 United Nations. The $150,000 Salvator Mile for 3 year olds and up serves as the prep for the $400,000 Grade 3 Monmouth Cup.