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2016 Carter Handicap, Gazelle, Excelsior Stakes

Jockey Cornelio Velasquez and Salutos Amigos after winning the Carter Handicap.

Wood Memorial & Bay Shore Stakes

Date: 04/09/2016

There were 4 graded stakes races run over the Aqueduct main track on Saturday. Closing out the stakes action was the second Grade 1 event on Wood Memorial day, the $400,000 Carter Handicap (G1) for older horses sprinting 7 furlongs and an early prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1). Salutos Amigos was the 3-2 favorite in the field of 8, 5th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and winner of the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) last out. In to challenge him included 4-1 second choice Calculator, third in the San Carlos (G2) at Santa Anita, and 9-2 third choice Majestic Affair, a close second in the General George (G3) at Laurel.

Salutos Amigos rallies on the far outside in the stretch.

13-1 Green Gratto was quickest away through fractions of 22.36 and 45.06 over the muddy track while pressed by 7-1 Dads Caps and stalked by 15-2 Anchor Down. Entering the lane, Dads Caps came out 3 wide for room and soon was 3 lengths clear through 3/4 in 1:09.86. However, Salutos Amigos, last through 5/8 mile, and Calculator, who chased him in 7th, unleased rallies from well back. Calculator briefly led at the 1/16 pole but the favorite outfinished him in a duel to the line to win by a head in 1:23.15. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back from Calculator to Dads Caps third.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 5   Salutos Amigos     Velasquez     5.10    3.30  2.50
 7   Calculator         Alvarado              4.90  4.00
 3   Dads Caps          Ortiz Jr.                   4.40

Winning Time:  1:23.15

$2 Exacta 5-7                29.00
$2 Trifecta 5-7-3           189.00
$2 Superfecta 5-7-3-6       884.00
Results Chart from DRF.

Left: Salutos Amigos in the winner's circle. Winning trainer and co-owner David Jacobson said, "Even though he is a gelding, he deserves a Grade 1 under his belt. I don't think we got the best trip. He's such a good horse. I think he overcame going wide, getting bumped. Usually, he breaks a little better - he's the first one out of the gate, and then we drop him back. So, I was concerned for about a minute eight or nine seconds. It's all heart with him. And (2nd place) Calculator is a real horse." 

Right: Salutos Amigos heads back to the barn after the race.

Left: Salutos Amigos in the paddock before the race.

Right: Salutos Amigos heads out for the post parade. Winning jockey Cornelio Velasquez said, "My horse broke good but I didn't want him too close because he wouldn't see anyone. The horse in front was coming out, but once I was able to put him in the clear. I had a lot of horse last sixteenth, he did very well and won the race.  The horse ran very well."

Left: Second place finisher Calculator in the post parade. The 4-1 second choice was unhurred 7th under Junior Alvarado, rallied, briefly led, but could not hold off the winner. The Peter Miller trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 8 starts, earning $344,300 for owner Richard Pell.

Right: Third place finisher Dads Caps walks over before the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "He broke good and he was very sharp today.  I didn't want to make the lead too early but he just dragged me on his own. That type of horse, when they make the lead like that, they start to look around. Unfortunately, the horses that passed me from the outside in the middle of the track, he can't see those horses. If he could, he would come back to fight."

The filly counterpart to the Wood is the $300,000 Gazelle Stakes (G2) for 3-year-old fillies, also contested at 1 1/8 miles, and earns the winner 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Demoiselle (G2) winner Lewis Bay was sent off as the 7-4 favorite in the field of 6 off her second place finish in the Davona Dale (G2). In to challenge her included 9-5 second choice Clair de Lune, winner of 2 straight in allowance company, and 7-2 third choice Royal Obsession, fourth in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds.

Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Clair de Lune to the front first time by and she set fractions of 23.93 and 48.67 while pressed by 11-2 Mo d'Amour and stalked by Lewis Bay. On the far turn Lewis Bay, 3 wide throughout, gained the lead through 3/4 in 1:13.88, and quickly opened up a 3 1/2 length lead midstretch through 1 mile in 1:39.17. Royal Obsession, 4th early, attempted a rally late but Lewis Bay easily held her off by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:52.60. It was a long 7 lengths back to Mo d'Amour third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Left: Lewis Bay in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Chad Brown said, We set this plan up after the Demoiselle to give her one start in the Davona Dale and then the Gazelle; very rarely when you make a plan with horses long term does it work out. With her it has, because she's such an honest, consistent, sound filly. When you have a horse like that in your barn you can keep a schedule. She'll have a couple of works (at Churchill Downs) before the Oaks."

Right: Lewis Bay returns after the race. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "I didn't want to make the lead too early. She passes horses on her own. I looked around and nobody was coming so I grabbed her late. If she saw somebody she would go."

Left: Second place finisher Royal obsession heads over to the paddock before the race. Jockey Manuel Franco said, "I got a good trip. She was just the second best today. The winner won so easy, and when I tried to surprise her, he just let her go and she went on." Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen added, "It was her first time going the distance and she galloped out in front of everybody. She was kind of looking around at the crowd screaming, but other than that, I was very pleased with her."

Right: Third place finisher Mo d'Amour heads out to the track before the race. The 11-2 fourth choice pressed the pace under John Velazquez but tired late to finish third beaten 8 1/2 lengths. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 2 thirds in 6 starts earning $177,940 for owner King of Prussia Stable.

Kicking off the stakes action on Wood day was the $200,000 Excelsior Stakes (G3) for older horses going 1 1/4 miles on the main track. John B. Campbell Stakes winner Kid Cruz was the 3-2 favorite in the field of 5 over 9-5 second choice Madefromlucky, third in the Stymie, and 4-1 third choice Good Luck Gus, winner of the Haynesfield.

Madefromlucky was sent to the lead first time past the stands by jockey John Velazquez through fractions of 23.15, 49.13, 1:13.03, and 1:39.24 while pressed by Good Luck Gus and stalkd by 7-1 Turco Bravo. Entering the stretch, Kid Cruz, 4th early, swept 4 wide to challenge. Kid Cruz and Madefromlucky battled for the final 1/4 mile, with Kid Cruz prevailing by 1/2 a length in 2:04.52 over the fast main track. It was a long 6 3/4 lengths back to Turco Bravo third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Left: Kid Cruz heads to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Linda Rice said, " There was such a lack of speed on paper. I didn't think we'd be on the lead but we had an inside post and Jose's gotten to know the horse pretty well. He's ridden him quite a few times consecutively and he knows you have to work to put him into position because otherwise he'll take himself out completely."

Right: Kid Cruz returns after the race. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "I put him close, where I wanted to be. At the top of the stretch I felt very good. I had a lot of horse. When we hit the quarter pole, I looked back, and no one was coming. I knew I had Johnny already. When I hit my horse left-handed, I lost the rein, but the race was over. It's cold and it's raining, so it happens. Kid Cruz is not an easy horse to ride. You have to ride him the whole way."

Left: Second place finisher Madefromlucky leads shortly after the start. The 9-5 second choice set the pace under John Velazquez but could not hold off the winner.

Right: Third place finisher Turco Bravo returns after the race. The 7-1 longest shot settled 3 lengths off the pace under Dylan Davis but faded late finishing third beaten 7 1/4 lengths. The Gary Contessa trainee improved his record to 12 wins, 14 seconds, and 7 thirds in 49 starts, earning $381,968 for owner Winning Move Stable.

On to the Wood Memorial and Bay Shore Stakes also on the card.

Past winners of the Carter Handicap
Past winners of the Gazelle Stakes Past winners of the Excelsior Stakes

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