Yellow Moon Stable's Hit It Once More surged to the lead and never relinquished the advantage, going gate-to-wire to capture his first stakes win since 2016 in the third running of the $100,000 Haynesfield for New York-bred 4-year-olds and up on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Off as the longest shot on the board at 16-1, Hit It Once More broke alertly on the muddy and harrowed track and led the field of six through an opening quarter-mile in 23.80 seconds and the half in 47.73 under jockey Rafael Hernandez. Out of the turn, the Gary Sciacca trainee stayed close to the rail and cleared away without a serious challenge, completing one mile in 1:39.52 for a 2 ¾-length victory over favorite Can You Diggit.
“That was the plan,” said Hernandez, who registered his first stakes win of the year. “Gary told me he's better when he's on the lead. So, I wanted to make sure he got the lead and, like he told me, he keeps going. He's great on the lead. I didn't let anybody get close to me.”
The 5-year-old son of Hard Spun won for the second time in three starts and earned a trip to the winner's circle in a stakes for the first time since capturing the New York Derby and Albany in back-to-back races in the summer of 2016.
“It took him a little while to get this 4-year-old year together,” Sciacca said. “We went two starts back with the blinkers and it kind of seemed to make a bit of a difference on him. Made him more focused to do his job.
“He always broke good but he pays more attention now. From a 3-year-old to 4-year-old, [it] just made him pay attention. I thought he could make the lead, but the one-turn mile I was thinking they got on you from the start, and they kind of did, but he got a breather when he opened up a little bit. I'm not sure where we'll go with him next, but today was good and we'll keep going.”
Hit It Once More paid $34.20 on a $2 win wager. He improved his career earnings to $494,642 and is 2-0-1 in five career starts at the Big A.
Can You Diggit, for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, was the runner-up for a second straight stakes following the Alex M. Robb on January 21.
Papa Shot, Uncle Sigh, Clutch Cargo and Extinct Charm completed the order of finish.
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