Heavily favored Sudden Surprise picked up the fourth stakes victory of his career on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack, leading from start to finish to win the $150,000 Great White Way Division of the New York Stallion Series.
With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons and second choice Dr. Shane in close pursuit, Sudden Surprise took the field of 2-year-olds through an opening quarter mile in 22.92 seconds, with the half going in 45.88. The Repole Stable homebred stubbornly held onto his lead through the stretch, hitting the wire a half-length in front of Dr. Shane, with the others far behind.
Sudden Surprise's winning time for the six furlongs was 1:11.38 over an inner track rated “good.”
“We figured that [Nick] Esler's horse [Dr. Shane] would be the second choice,” said Byron Hughes, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “He seems to be a nice little consistent horse and gave a little fight there at the end. The track's been playing a little slow, so I thought the time was pretty good. We'll see he comes out of it and go from there, but we'll keep him on the New York-bred trail.”
The victory was the fifth in six starts for Sudden Surprise, who also won the Funny Cide at Saratoga Race Course, the Bertram F. Bongard at Belmont Park and the Notebook in November at the Big A, all with Velazquez aboard.
“I've known him for so long, so I know he's nice and he's going to be very game,” said Velazquez, who came up from Florida to ride. “I think this is probably his distance as well. He's a really game horse, so whatever comes to him, he'll put up a really good fight down the lane. It was a really good effort.”
Sent off at 1-5, Sudden Surprise paid $2.60 for a $2 win bet and earned $90,000, boosting his bankroll $416,300.
Bluegrass Prevails checked in third, followed by Gaming, Text Me, Guaranteed, Silent Waters, Benny and Alex and Zoo Yorker. E J's Legacy, Littlebitadominc, Spooked Out and Lucky Lurie were scratched.
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