Cleber Massey's Blamed emphatically answered the question of handling the increased distance when she raced to the front, extended her lead coming out of the final turn and outkicked a charging Remedy in deep stretch to post a gate-to-wire three-quarter length victory in the 69th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Jockey Julien Leparoux guided the daughter of Blame to the front, where she paced the eight-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 24.96 seconds and the half in 49.01 on the fast main track. Out of the far turn, Blamed opened a 4 1/2-length lead, going three-quarters in 1:13.14. Remedy, under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, rallied in the final furlong but fell short as Blamed completed 1 1/8 miles in a final time of 1:51.98 to notch her sixth win in eight starts.
“She's fast, naturally fast,” Leparoux said. “She broke fast. We could have slowed down a little bit, but she was very comfortable and she did it very nicely. She was doing easy the whole way, and when I asked her, she really kicked in very nice for me. I think we had a little bit more left in the tank at the wire, so that's nice.”
Blamed, the 6-5 favorite who returned $4.40 on a $2 win bet, had won previously going around two turns at Sunland Park in the 1 1/16-mile Sunland Park Oaks on March 25, the last of five consecutive wins she earned for Joel Marr before Hall of Famer Bill Mott took over the training duties before a runner-up effort in the seven-furlong Grade 2 Raven Run on October 20 at Keeneland.
Stretching out to the Comely distance for the first time, the Maryland-bred improved to 6-2-0 in eight career starts and improved her career earnings to $401,260.
“I watched her break well,” Mott said. “I didn't see what happened with the other speed horse in there [Remedy] outside at the break. I saw she [Remedy] was further back and it looked like we were going relatively easy on the front end. Of course, you never know going a mile and an eighth for the first time in her life. She got the job done.
“We looked around the country for 3-year-old races that were left for her and this was one of the only options we had. Of course, I think it will tell us something about her going into next year. It will give us an indication of what her possibilities might be.”
Remedy, who was also second in her stakes debut in the Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks on September 30, registered her second straight runner-up effort for trainer Brad Cox, finishing 10 lengths ahead of the Jeremiah Englehart-trained Indy Union.
Split Time, Hey Niki, Stronger Than Ever, Alberobello and War Cabinet completed the order of finish.
In the finale of the 10-race card, Team Valor International's Bombshell, with Jorge Vargas, Jr. up for trainer Arnaud Delacour, captured the last of four stakes on Friday's Aqueduct card taking the $150,000 Forever Together for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upwards.
Originally scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the outer turf, the second running of the Forever Together was moved to the fast main track and contested at a distance of one mile with Saida leading through a half-mile in 47.17 with Dolce Lili, the 6-5 mutuel favorite, keeping close watch from along the rail.
Bombshell edged to the lead approaching the turn with Sexy Reasons following her lead, while Dolce Lili continued to wait for racing room. Ahead by 2 1/2 lengths at the top of the lane, Bombshell found another gear and launched an explosive turn of foot to repel all challengers en route to a 4 ¼-length score. A game and determined Sexy Reasons held on for second, a nose in front of Dolce Lili. Ready to Confess and Saida completed the order of finish. Bombshell covered the mile in 1:38.86.
Delacour said he wasn't surprised by the strong effort over the Aqueduct main as Bombshell earned her first career stakes score.
“She had some good back form on the dirt. She's a game filly and seems to handle the dirt very well here and that seemed to be the key,” said Delacour. “The jockey did a good job to keep his position, but not go too fast. She's really game and versatile. The only thing she's never done is run over soft turf. That's the only question left. She's a very nice horse to have.”
Vargas, Jr. said he was able to follow the conditioner's instruction to the letter.
“The main thing Mr. Delacour told me was to get her to relax, and I think she did,” he said. “She was between horses and she was so relaxed, letting me do whatever I wanted to do on her, and when I asked her just a little bit, she just went on.”
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, the 5-year-old Bellamy Road bay paid $12.20 to win. She banked $82,500 in victory while improving her record to 6-3-4 from 18 career starts.
La Moneda, Bellavais, Penjade, Conquest Hardcandy, Lady Joan, Special Event, Lift Up and Matty's Magnum were scratched.
Live racing continues Saturday at Aqueduct with a 10-race card featuring the $400,000 Grade 3 Long Island, the $200,000 Grade 3 Discovery and the $125,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship. First post time is 11:50 a.m.
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