Belmont Park, 4th Race - September 15, 2007
NEW YORK -- The Green Monkey sure didn't look like a $16 million horse in his greatly anticipated debut at Belmont Park on Saturday.
The most expensive horse purchased at auction started slowly and
never mounted a serious threat, finishing third in a six-furlong maiden special weight several races before Rags to Riches ran in the Gazelle Stakes.
The Green Monkey, named for a golf course in Barbados, was sent
off as the 2-5 favorite despite taking on five experienced rivals. Roi Maudit ($22.80) won, with Sixhirteen second and The Green Monkey seven lengths behind the winner.
"I figured he would be a big favorite because of all the publicity he's gotten, but I don't think he ran so badly," trainer Todd Pletcher said, relieved to finally get The Green Monkey to the race track following several physical ailments.
"He was outfooted a little bit the first part, then got some decent position and after that they kind of spurted away from him at the top of the stretch. From the eighth pole to the wire, he showed a little interest and galloped out well."
The Green Monkey was purchased by Demi O'Byrne for owners
Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier at the Fasig-Tipton Calder sale in February 2006. The $16 million price tag topped the previous record of $13.1 million paid in the mid-1980s for Seattle Dancer, a half-brother to 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
The owners then sent the son of Forestry to Pletcher, who had hoped to get the colt to the races during the recently concluded Saratoga meet. But The Green Monkey was slow to round into form because of a muscle tear.
After his 11th workout this year, a four-furlong breeze in 47.15 last Saturday, Pletcher decided it was time for a race.
"In a perfect world he would win," Pletcher said. "But we were at a stage where we've done everything we could to prepare him to run. Then you have to make a decision to run, and we were at that point. He didn't run totally differently than I expected, but I expected he would have been a little better."
O'Byrne was in the paddock before the race, and wished jockey
John Velazquez luck before Pletcher gave the rider a leg up.
Hundreds of fans lined the paddock area, gawking at The Green
Monkey, who didn't look much different from any of the other
"Everyone wants to see what $16 million can buy you,"
The jockey thought The Green Monkey performed well in his first
"It was very good, very professional," Velazquez said. "He's
just not very quick. He will need a little more distance."
The winning time was 1:09.10, a relatively fast time, and
Pletcher added, "If you asked me before if they run in 1:09 flat
could you run that pace ... he's probably not ready for that."