OZONE PARK, N.Y. — With the two new turf courses still green after Thanksgiving and the old “Inner Track” (the former surface for winter racing) gone, Aqueduct staged its final big stake racing day of 2017 offering the $750,000, Grade 1 Cigar Mile, the Grade 2 Demoiselle, the Grade 2 Remsen and the Grade 3 Go for Wand.
Go for Wand...
The Go for Wand's $200,000 purse attracted seven fillies and mares for a one mile dirt race around one turn on the main oval.
The Godolphin Stable's Indulgent earned her black type in the sales catalogs when she overcame her morning line odds of 15 to 1, the second highest on the board, to win her fourth lifetime race and her first stake.
Despite drifting out in the home stretch, the daughter of Bernardini from the Deputy Minister mare Fast Cookie gained a one-length decision over Chester and Mary Broman's New York-bred Highway Star who countered traffic trouble to finish eleventh in her last outing, the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Indulgent ran the mile in 1:37.75 on a fast track to earn the winner's check for $120,000.
Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA, said after the race, “To put a graded victory under the name is very important. This should make her a very welcome addition to the breeding operation.”
Two races later, Gary Barber's Wonder Gadot had a lot less trouble in the home stretch in winning the $250,000, Grade 2 Demoiselle than she had when she finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race last month.
Wonder Godot sat off the pace setting Daisy until the field of eight reached the half mile pole of the nine furlong race. At that point, Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez pushed the 'go' button.
By the time the field straightened away for the run home, the Mark Casse trainee was enjoying a three length lead.
At the line, it was Wonder Godot by 3-1/4 lengths to the good of Maurer Power who was seeking her third straight win following a maiden score ar Delaware and an allowance win at Parx for Cash Is King Stables.
After slowpoke fractions of 1:16.24 for six furlongs and 1:41.50 for the mile set by Fox Hill Farm's Daisy (the ultimate fourth place runner), Wonder Godot was clocked in 1:53.91 over a fast track.
Velazquez reported a change of tactics for the Demoiselle saying,” I was talking to the trainers about staying closer to the speed. We were hoping she would be more comfortable. (When) I switched leads, she was going very comfortably and she got away from the other horses pretty easily.”
After two highly successful tries racing on the turf course, owner Robert V. LaPenta and trainer Jonathan Thomas switched Catholic Boy to the main track for the $250,000, Grade 2 Remsen, a race being run for the 104th time.
The change of venue for the 2-year-old son of More than Ready from the Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette paid off when he took the lead passing the 3-16/th pole and went on to score his third win from four starts and his second in stakes company.
He and regular rider Manny Franco were the one-length winners of Saratoga's Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes over the summer before they finished fourth in the Grade 1 Juvenile Turf Breeders' Cup.
After the race, the Florida-based Thomas said he had reason to be optimistic going into the Remsen. “We were really happy with the way he exited the Breeders' Cup,” he said. “We brought him here and we were able to get two nice works into him (4 furlongs in 49.66 and 4 furlongs in 50.25 spaced a week apart) and he did that well.
“He came into this being a lightly raced colt. (This was) his fourth start so we felt we were dealing with a fresh animal,” he reported.
Catholic Boy, who will now get some time off at Ocala, Fla. before starting his 3-year-old campaign, ran the mile and a furlong in 1:52.55 on a fast track to get the best of Godolphin's Avery Island with Jersey Joe Bravo aboard.
Lael Stable's Vouch was third in the field of 10 juveniles.
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