Yesterday could have been called Jose Lezcano Day at Belmont Park after the Panamanian jockey swept three stakes races in a row, beginning with the7 furlong Sprint Championship aboard Clearly Now, who not only rocketed to a 6-1/4 length lead over second place finisher Palace, but did so by setting a new track record at 1:19.96.
He then, literally stole the show from 2-1 favorite Adelaide in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational with 23-1 Mr. Speaker, who shot up the rail during the midstretch run, taking the lead away from the Irish horse at the 16th pole and holding on to win by a neck at the wire. Mr. Speaker’s performance not only paid $49 for his third win on the grass, but vindicated him in the eyes of venerable owner Ogden “Dinny” Mills Phipps and Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who were dumbfounded by his 5th place finish at Belmont on May 26th.
As if these were not enough, Lezcano took command of the $500,000 Suburban handicap aboard Zivo, who captured the race by covering the 1-1/4 miles in a brisk 2:00.43. Earlier in the day, Lecanzo came in 3rd with Kingsford Drive in the 2nd event on the card,, a 6 furlong Allowance Optional Claiming race, followed by another 3rd place finish in the 1-1/16th Grade III Dwyer with Ulanbator behind winner Kid Cruz (who will now be pointed toward the Jim Dandy and Travers stakes at Saratoga) and place horse Captain Serious/
Born April 20, 1985 in Panama Jose Lezcano learned to ride at the Laffit Pincay Jockey School in his native country before coming to the United States in 2003, where he began his career here at Gulfstream Park. His first win came a little more than a year later aboard Cloudy Gray. Although he spent 2005 at Monmouth, he now competes in New York for three quarters of the year, spending his winters in Florida.