NEW YORK — The Woodward Stakes was "a very, very good" performance for Track Barron, according to trainer Leroy Jolley. For jockey Angel Cordero, it was old hat.
"That's six Woodwards altogether for me and five in a row," said Cordero after riding Track Barron to a front-running four-length victory over Vanlandingham, ridden by Pat Day, Saturday at Belmont Park.
The veteran jockey first won this prestigious stakes with 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew in 1978. Then, in the last four years, he won with Pleasant Colony, Island Whirl and Slew o' Gold twice.
Cordero's victory on Slew o' Gold last year was the first step toward a $1-million bonus that goes to the winner of the Woodward, the Marlboro Cup and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
This year, the Marlboro Cup will be held Sept. 14 and the Gold Cup Oct. 5.
Track Barron, carrying 123 pounds, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46 3/5. The victory was worth $204,000 from a purse of $334,000 and rewarded his backers with a $4.60 win payoff.
"He's probably at the best that he's been in his entire career right now," Jolley said of the Peter M. Brant 4-year-old who won for the third straight time this year.
Said Cordero: "He's a very peculiar kind of horse. He's puzzling--hard to figure out, unpredictable. I guess that's why we get along so well."
Cordero and Track Barron were the perfect pair Saturday in what amounted to a stroll through the park as they dictated the outcome of the race from the start.
Chief's Crown, one of two 3-year-olds in the six-horse field, finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Vanlandingham and another half-length in front of the other 3-year-old, Skip Trial.
Cordero, who had ridden Chief's Crown to an impressive victory in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga that put that colt back in the race for the 3-year-old championship, rode Track Barron Saturday because he has a yearlong commitment. He was replaced on Chief's Crown by Laffit Pincay.