By John Manley
Corkman Niall O’Callaghan notched his first Grade I stakes win as a trainer when On a Soapbox won the $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park last Saturday. The 3-year-old filly dueled Dreams Gallore, the 2-5 favorite, to the sixteenth pole, where she bid that one farewell, going on to prevail by four lengths.
On a Soapbox was always prominent in the 12-furlong Oaks, this country’s longest stakes race for fillies on the dirt. Kept no more than two lengths off the pace by jockey Jerry Bailey, On a Soapbox, went three wide entering the stretch, as Dreams Gallore drew into contention from the back of the pack. Bailey worked his filly hard to the wire with both a hand ride and vigorous stick action.
The winning time was 2:29.31. On a Soapbox paid $11.80 to win.
The winner, which is owned by Leslie Grimm and Gene Voss, is well bred to cover the classic distance. Go back two generations and you’ll find two Belmont Stakes winners: Conquistador Cielo on the side of the sire, Mi Cielo, and Stage Door Johnny on the dam’s side.
McCarthy’s stellar ride
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Trainer Richard Small has done well over the years with late-developing three-year-old colts. Broad Brush and Concern are two prime examples. So it’s no mystery why Michael McCarthy gave up a full card of mounts at Delaware Park to trek to Thistledown in Cleveland, where he rode Stellar Brush for Small in the $300,000 Ohio Derby. The journey paid off when McCarthy coaxed Stellar Brush to a narrow victory.
Stellar Brush lagged throughout the opening half mile, before he started picking up horses. He came with a rush on the outside as the field entered the straight, then drifted in toward the rail once clear to hold off the late charging Ecton Park by a neck.
The winner, a son of Broad Brush, got the nine furlongs in 1:49.1. He triggered a $9.60 win mutuel. He previously finished second in the Iowa Derby, which followed a win in the Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware, both coming with McCarthy in the saddle.
The reinsman, who is of Galway lineage, is currently the leading rider at Delaware, where he has ruled the roost for the last three years.