Blue Devil Racing's homebred Come Dancing was sent straight to the front and never looked back notching her fifth career victory in the Grade 3 $150,000 Distaff Handicap on Friday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Guided by winter meet leading rider Manny Franco, the 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon broke on top and set opening fractions of 23.40 seconds, 46.68 for the half-mile and 1:10.21, while Yorkiepoo Princess tracked closely to her outside in second. Come Dancing was at an advantage when the post-time favorite and anticipated pacesetter Kathryn the Wise missed the break and was not a factor.
Just past the quarter pole, 26-1 longshot Pacific Gale tried to make a run at the eventual winner but under very little urging from Franco, Come Dancing was able to keep her at bay and drew off to win by 7 3/4-lengths.
Come Dancing completed the one-mile distance in a time of 1:22.31 on the main track labeled fast. Pacific Gale finished second, 6 1/4-lengths ahead of third-place finisher Dawn the Destroyer.
Yorkiepoo Princess, Holiday Disguise, Kathryn the Wise and Rosyjersey rounded out the order of finish. Split Time and Startwithsilver were scratched.
The Distaff Handicap was jockey Manny Franco's first time aboard Come Dancing.
“That filly [Kathryn the Wise], even if she broke good, I don't know if she would get the jump on me because my filly broke so sharp out of there,” said Franco who scored his third win of the day. “She put her ears up right away. That was the key. She put her ears up and I knew that I had a lot of horse under me.”
Now a five-time winner in nine career starts, Come Dancing earned her second lifetime stakes victory and her first at graded stakes caliber. Three starts back, she won the Royal Delta Stakes at Belmont Park in similar frontrunning fashion by 6 1/4-lengths. The Distaff Handicap was her 2019 debut and she had not run since finishing a neck behind Marley's Freedom in the Grade 3 Go for Wand over the Aqueduct main track.
Come Dancing banked a total of $82,500 from Friday's victory which enhanced her lifetime earnings to $339,200.
Come Dancing gave trainer Carlos Martin his first graded stakes win since Roar Emotion's triumph in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in 2003.
“Manny [Franco] is a great rider and he rode a great race,” Martin said. “Obviously, when she broke on top he went on with it and when I saw her go [opening quarter-mile] 23 [seconds] and four-fifths, I was looking up at the sky saying, 'God bless my father [Jose Martin] and grandfather [Hall of Famer Frank 'Pancho' Martin].' Being a third-generation trainer, I wondered if they were looking over me with those fractions. It was a special moment.
“I thought we were pretty good by the half [mile] because she's a pretty sensational filly,” Martin continued. “The main thing is that she came back from the layoff and won impressively. We've got a lot of good options to go to from here, so it's an exciting time for us.”
Come Dancing returned $10.60 for a $2 win bet.
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, Come Dancing is out of the graded stakes winning Tiznow broodmare Tizahit who won the Grade 2 Demoiselle at the Big A in 2009.
Live racing resumes Saturday at 1:00 p.m. ET with a total of five graded stakes races on the 11-race card, including the 95th running of the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets, which offers the winner 100 qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.