By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Michael Dubb and Gandharvi LLC’s Battle Bling went wire-to-wire under Kendrick Carmouche to score her first graded victory in Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm, a nine-furlong route for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Rob Atras, Battle Bling made her third appearance in graded company after a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 La Troienne in May at Churchill Downs and a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in July at its namesake track. The daughter of Vancouver has a perfect in-the-money record at Aqueduct, which now stands at 5-2-3-0 after her gutsy neck victory.
“She’s remarkable,” said Atras, who scored his fourth career graded stakes triumph. “It’s great to have a filly like that in the barn, who just shows up every time. I’m very grateful.”
Battle Bling, sent from the outermost post 5 at odds of 9-5, broke the best in the compact field as Exotic West leapt up and unseated rider Mike Luzzi from the inside post. Battle Bling was undeterred by the commotion and quickly established command over her three rivals through an opening quarter-mile in 25.80 seconds over the fast main track.
W W Fitzy tracked closely in second down the backstretch with post-time favorite First to Act along the rail in third and the Hector Diaz, Jr.-piloted Nostalgic bringing up the rear through a half-mile in 50.75. Battle Bling remained in command approaching the turn as W W Fitzy dropped back with Nostalgic putting in a strong run in the three-path.
Battle Bling completed three-quarters in 1:15.74 and was 3 1/2 lengths in the clear at the stretch call, but Nostalgic made up ground with every stride and chipped away at her foe’s margins as the two drew away from an all-out First to Act. Battle Bling had enough left in the tank to fend off the outside bid of Nostalgic, crossing the wire first in a final time of 1:53.60.
It was another 13 3/4 lengths back to First to Act with W W Fitzy completing the order of finish. Exotic West, who was collared by the outrider, and Luzzi walked off under their own power. Hybrid Eclipse and Coach were scratched.
Battle Bling entered the Turnback the Alarm from a prominent victory in the Twixt on October 1 at Laurel Park and a handicap victory in September at Colonial Downs in similar fashion, a change from her previous off-the-pace style. Carmouche said being forwardly placed has helped the 4-year-old filly.
“They were coming, but they were coming too late,” Carmouche said. “She ran awesome. I tried to pull the trigger a little bit early at the quarter-pole because I wanted to get away from them. I didn’t want her to hang on me. Rob and Brittney [Atras, assistant trainer] have this horse right. I’m just glad that Mike Dubb and Rob gave me the shot to do what I want on her and ride her the way I want. The last couple times, being close to the pace, she’s more productive.”
Battle Bling stretched out an extra sixteenth from her last two outings, and Atras said he knew the distance would be demanding.
“I saw the 1:15 and it seemed like she was getting away a little bit, but I could see the four [Nostalgic] was coming,” Atras said. “I knew it wasn’t over because a mile and an eighth is still a mile and an eighth and Aqueduct can be a tiring track.”
Battle Bling has proven to be an astute claim for her connections, finishing first or second in all but one of her nine starts since being haltered for $62,500 out of a close second in a December optional claimer at the Big A. Her run of form includes a neck victory over Miss Leslie in the Ladies in both her stakes debut and her first start off the claim, as well as runner-up finishes in the Heavenly Prize Invitational, Top Flight Invitational, and Obeah, all of which came with a margin of defeat of three-quarter lengths or less.
Bred in Kentucky by Royal Oak Farm, Battle Bling banked $82,500 in victory to boost her total purse earnings to $618,117 through a record of 21-6-8-1. She returned $5.80 for a $2 win wager.
Diaz, Jr., who rode the Grade 1-placed Nostalgic for the first time, said his filly was game in defeat.
“She was the best horse and she ran huge,” said Diaz, Jr. “We just had bad luck that nobody pressured the horse in front – she was just walking and she still almost ran her down. A jump after the wire I was in front. I’m happy with her effort. She ran good.”
Live racing resumes Saturday at Aqueduct with a 10-race card, including the $120,000 Atlantic Beach in Race 4 and $120,000 Stewart Manor in Race 7. First post is 10:50 a.m. Eastern. Doors will open at 10 a.m.
America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of the Aqueduct fall meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the best way to bet every race of the Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.