Good gate Essential at Belmont

Essential Spice won well enough at Belmont on Saturday to earn a crack in better company next season.

The Gingerbread Man filly looked a promising type this time last year but a combination of bad luck, bad barriers and hoof issues thwarted her progress until the Peter Griffin Birthday Hcp (1000m).

“She deserved that win. A good gate was the key,” co-trainer Dan Pearce said after collecting one of the last Westspeed bonuses of the season. “She’s going well and it’s hard to send them out when they’re winning. But she can come back for a summer campaign at Ascot.”

Essential Spice (3f Gingerbread Man – Falls County by Soldier’s Tale) had been runner-up three times at Belmont last month and she gave champion jockey Willie Pike a trouble-free ride to win by two lengths from Shinju (Written Tycoon) and Why Choose Her (Choisir).

“That’s my first time on her and she jumped well before taking a trail,” Pike reported. “These 1000m races can be tricky. It’s a balance between holding your ground and not going too early.”

Yarradale Stud-based Gingerbread Man sired the winner from a half-sister to Niagara Falls (G3 MRC Carlyon Cup). Her second-dam Bracken Bank (Sir Tristram) won a G2 Champagne Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Pearce Racing bought Essential Spice for $20,000 at the 2017 Yarradale Stud Sale. Saturday’s victory sent her earnings to $243,600 which includes Westspeed bonuses of $89,300.

Gingerbread Man (Shamardal) stands for a $4,400 service fee at Yarradale. He is open for bookings with War Chant ($11,000), Bradbury’s Luck ($4,400), Heritage ($4,400) and Vital Equine ($4,400) who is based at Roselee Stud.