OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Michael Dubb’s Chateau led at every point of call as the mutuel favorite in Sunday’s $100,000 Gravesend, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up over the fast main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Chateau, ridden from the outermost post 5 by Kendrick Carmouche, broke the sharpest in the compact field and was hurried to the lead while Majestic Dunhill, who hopped in the air from post 2, lost ground early. Post-time second choice Jaxon Traveler was settled to the inside of Chateau by jockey Jose Lezcano as Drafted tracked in third.
Racing down the backstretch, Lezcano angled Jaxon Traveler to the outside of Chateau and came within a length of the lead, the pair spotting the rest of the field 6 ½ lengths through an opening quarter mile in 23.30 seconds. Jaxon Traveler inched closer rounding the turn as Carmouche got to work on Chateau, traveling four-wide from the rail and running down the center of the racetrack.
Chateau was briefly threatened by Jaxon Traveler at the top of the stretch, but began to kick clear at the sixteenth pole, keeping to task with a single right-handed tap of the crop from Carmouche to win the Gravesend by 3 ½ lengths in a final time of 1:11.26.
Jaxon Traveler stayed on well to hold off a late charge to his outside from Drafted and preserved place honors by a three-quarters of a length. Majestic Dunhill rounded out the superfecta with Wendell Fong completing the order of finish. Grade 3 Bold Ruler winner Wondrwherecraigis was scratched.
Carmouche said Chateau was ready for the showdown with Jaxon Traveler.
“When the track is favoring his type of go, he loves it,” said Carmouche. “Today, I just knew I had to break, stay outside and let him run his race. He dragged me around there. He kept fighting. Every time he heard the other horse coming, he wanted a little bit more.”
Lezcano praised Jaxon Traveler for his game runner-up effort.
“My horse broke pretty well,” Lezcano said. “I think he gave me a good race. He faced some good horses today and he gave me his best. The other horse was just too fast.”
Chateau’s trainer, Rob Atras, said he was glad to see the 6-year-old gelding back in the winner’s circle.
“I think the scratch [of Wondrwherecraigis] was a factor, but I’m very happy with the way Chateau ran,” Atras said. “He showed his speed and finished up really nice today.”
Chateau made his eighth start of the year in the Gravesend off a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight3 ½ lengths behind Hopeful Treasure on November 28. Atras said Chateau’s Gravesend effort showed improvement from his prior start.
“I think he moved forward,” said Atras. “It was a bit of a layoff and he had to use himself quite a bit at the start of the race and that probably hindered him coming home. But the race definitely helped him and that showed today.”
Carmouche first got a leg up on Chateau when he rode him to a third-place finish in an optional claimer last November. With Carmouche in the irons for six of Chateau’s next eight starts, the pair won two races together, including a graded stakes victory in the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct in March.
“He just really figured him out quick when he got on him,” said Atras. “He rode him great again today. He got to the lead and he just really knows the horse. He knows where to put him in the race and when to let him loose.”
The consistent son of Flat Out has won or been on the board in 28 of 39 career starts, including on-the-board efforts in this year’s Grade 3 Runhappy at Belmont Park and the Lite the Fuse at Pimlico en route to his Gravesend score.
Bred in Kentucky by Preston Stables, Chateau improved his record to 39-8-10-10 with his Gravesend win, earning $55,000 in victory to increase his total career purse earnings to $615,019. A $2 win bet on Chateau returned $5.20.
Live racing will resume Thursday, December 30 at the Big A and will feature a $49,302 carryover in the $1 Pick 6.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: Chateau (Chelsea Durand / NYRA Photo)