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Ordway Wins Champagne on Big Card at Belmont

October 5, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Ordway stamped himself as a horse to beat in the Breeders’ Cup by winning Saturday in the Moet Champagne, a race that has yielded the last three 2-year-old champion thoroughbreds.

With less than an eighth of a mile to go, Ordway bolted between Gold Tribute on the inside and Traitor on the outside to win the 1 1-16-mile race on the undercard at Belmont to the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Cigar’s final performance before heading to Toronto’s Woodbine for the Breeders’ Cup on Oct. 26.

Ridden by John Velazquez and trained by David Donk, Ordway paid $17, $5.80 and $3.70. Traitor, who won the Futurity here on Sept. 15, was second by 1 3/4 lengths, and Gold Tribute, second in both his career starts under the tutelage of D. Wayne Lukas, was third, another two lengths back.

``It was a rider’s race, and you had to be a little lucky,″ Donk said.

All starters carried 122 pounds, and time for the race was 1:42.09. Traitor paid $3 and $2.30, and Gold Tribute returned $3.

Traitor took the rail coming out of the final turn, and went into the lead in the deep stretch, and that’s where it looked like he was going to stay with Gold Tribute to his outside.

Suddenly, however, Velazquez called on Ordway, and he broke out of the pack and bolted between Traitor and Gold Tribute into the lead. He now has won two of four career starts for owners William J. Punk Jr. and Phillip DiLeo, and will go to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile one of the favorites.

``When I let him run, he really responded for me,″ Velazquez said. ``I was just waiting for a little room to run.″

In two other races on the undercard, Diplomatic Jet won the Turf Classic, and Same Old Wish captured the Kelso.

Diplomatic Jet gave owner Fred Hooper an early birthday present by winning the $500,000 Turf Classic Invitational over 1 3/4 miles. Hooper, who won the 1945 Kentucky Derby with Hoop Jr., turns 99 on Sunday.

``I just talked to Mr. Hooper on the phone, and this is a great birthday present for him,″ trainer James Picou said.

Diplomatic Jet, ridden by Jorge Chavez, completed the fall grass double at Belmont with the win. He’d also won the Man o’War on Sept. 14 in his last outing.

Diplomatic Jet stalked the pace all the way and took the lead with a little more than a quarter-mile left, then held off the favored Awad, ridden by Pat Day. Awad came flying from last to finish three quarters of a length back of Diplomatic Jet, who paid $13.40. Time for the race was 2:27.51. Marlin was third, another 3 3/4 lengths back.

Awad had little chance with his come-from-behind style after slow early fractions set by Turk Passer of 48.98 for the first half and 1:14.22 for six furlongs.

In the 1-mile Kelso on grass, 34-1 longshot Same Old Wish, ridden by Shane Sellers, split horses inside the sixteenth pole and caught Da Hoss at the wire to win his second straight and pay $71 for the head victory. Da Hoss, ridden by Gary Stevens, had taken the lead inside the eighth-mile pole, also splitting horses and finishing along the rail as Same Old Wish passed him to the outside. Da Hoss had won two in a row.

Time was 1:34.42.

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