OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Enticed, a regally-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro from the Mineshaft mare It's Tricky, is following a blue print to the Kentucky Derby that might have been drawn by a horse racing architect.
After breaking his maiden at Saratoga, the Godolphin home-bred finished a credible third in the Belmont's Grade 1 Champagne at a mile behind Firenze Fire and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Champion Good Magic.
After concluding his 2017 season, with a win by a head in Churchill's Kentucky Jockey Club at 1-1/16 miles, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sent him on vacation to prepare for his 3-year-old campaign.
His debut this season resulted in a fourth place finish in Gulfstream's Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes, again at 8-1/2 furlongs. Next on the agenda was Aqueduct's $300,000, Grade 2 Gotham Stakes, a drop-back-to-a-mile race around one turn.
That was the one McLaughlin was looking for.
After breaking from the outside stall in the nine horse field, regular rider Junior Alvarado kept Enticed off the pace and on the outside. Employing a tactic McLaughlin termed “clean face,” Enticed and Alvarado were 4-1/2 lengths behind the front running Old Time Revival and jockey Jeremy Rose at the head of the lane.
With Old Time Revival coming in slightly and Enticed coming out slightly, Enticed took the lead a sixteenth out and drew off to a 2-3/4-length win over Old Time Revival. Free Drop Willy, the winner of Keeneland's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Futurity and the 17 to 10 favorite in the Gotham, finished third four lengths astern of Old Time Revival. Firenze Fire was fourth.
Enticed collected 50 Kentucky Derby points for his win and is almost a sure shot to earn a starting Derby berth. Old Time Revival earned 20 and will no doubt need more to get in the May 5 classic. Free Drop Willy pocketed another 10 to boost his total to 24. Firenze Fire raised his Derby score to 29.
With probably one race between the Gotham and The Derby, McLaughlin was pleased with his colt's progress. “It was a great run and everything went perfect,” he said speaking from his base in Florida.
When asked 'What's next?' Kiaran, he replied, “We'll talk to (Godolphin Racing Manager) Jimmy Bell and hopefully look at (the Grade 2) Wood Memorial” on April 7. “I've got to talk to Jimmy about bringing him back down here (to Palm Meadows) and train and then fly him back for the Wood. He did well in Florida,” he concluded.
Bell willingly added, “He's a big boy. But, at this time of year, you start graduating and he probably made it back to his next level. We'll certainly sit down and assess where we'll run next.”
Then came the line that is guaranteed to warm the hearts of NYRA management: “He certainly enjoys New York,” said the man who makes Gololphin's decisions.
The highly successful tandem of owner-trainer David Jacobson and jockey Dylan Davis teamed up to win the opening race of the Aqueduct series of four with a perfectly time ride aboard Harlan Punch in the 63rd running of the Stymie Stakes for older horses around a one-turn mile.
Davis kept Jacobson's 5-year-old gelding in the shadow of the pace-setting long-shot, Hit It Once More and Rafael Hernandez as they ran up the backstretch in the $150,000 stake. They went up alongside their main rival as they turned for home and entered the stretch as the leader. With Davis keeping his charge to his task, Harlan Punch galloped home to his third straight win for Jacobson and his seventh lifetime from 27 starts.
As Hit It Once More began to fade, long shot Backsideofthemoon and Kendrick Caramouche came on to take second money seven lengths behind the winner and three lengths to the good of Hit It Once More. Harlan Punch, a gelded son of Harlan's Holiday from Indy Punch, was clocked in 1:38.03 for the mile over the fast track.
After the race, Jacobson lauded his rider saying, “I left him no instructions. I told him 'Use your gut and figure it out.' The way he's riding now, who's going to give him instructions? Definitely not me.”
One race later, Karamouche extracted a measure of revenge when he piloted Corma Racing Stable's Divine Miss Grey to a 6-3/4-length win in the fifth running of the Heavenly Prize for fillies and mares.
The Danny Gargan trainee won her second consecutive stakes encounter when she drew off to win in an eased up 1:38.30 for the one-turn mile over a fast track. The daughter of Divine Park from Seattle Grey, who was bred by former Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones, was fresh off a victory seven weeks earlier in Aqueduct's Interborough.
The chestnut filly, who was claimed for $40,000 last year at Belmont Park, now has eight wins from 14 starts and earnings a few dollars short of $400,000.
Lady Sheila Stable's Holiday Disguise, the winner of the Big A's Biogio's Rose in her last out, took home second money with Junior Alvarado aboard. Frost Wise, the winner of the Bay Ridge two races back, checked in third.
Gargan was pleased to see a former claimer winning stakes at a major track. “We’ve been lucky enough to have a great claim,” he said. “It's great to see horses coming out of claiming races winning stakes back-to-back at Aqueduct. That helps the game a lot,” he said.
The 43rd running of the Tom Fool Stakes saw SJB Stables' and Marcello Mocozzi's Skyler Scramjet move up from the allowance ranks to capture his first career stakes race. The 4-year-old gelding defeated eight rivals in the 6-furlong handicap for older horses that carried a $200,000 purse.
Trevor McCarthy, who is wintering at the Big A this season, was aboard for trainer Michelle Nevin as the grey fended off a challenge from Do Share and Junior Alvarado to win by 1-1/2 lengths. Great Stuff and Dylan Davis were third in the race that that was clocked in 1:11.38.
The steel grey gelding has now won five races from 10 starts and—with his Tom Fool check for $120,000 — is now over the quarter million mark.
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