By Brian Bohl
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Espresso Shot capitalized on a forwardly placed trip and held off Prairie Fire’s late bid to notch her first victory in 20 months with a two-length score in Sunday’s $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series Staten Island for eligible New York-sired fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 4-year-old daughter of Mission Impazible was stretched out for most of her current campaign, even being tried on turf in September at Belmont Park, before being shortened back up in a main-track sprint last out when fifth in the 6 1/2-furlong Iroquois on October 24 over Belmont’s Big Sandy.
Trainer Jorge Abreu kept Espresso Shot at one turn, and the move paid off as she tracked in second position near the rail before Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez tipped her out along the backstretch as Sadie Lady led the seven-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 23.76 seconds and the half in 47.43 on the fast main track.
Espresso Shot matched Sadie Lady nearly stride for stride at the quarter-pole before taking command coming out of the turn. When straightened for home, Velazquez put her under a drive, repelling Prairie Fire’s outside charge to hit the wire in 1:24.64.
“Last time, there was a lot of speed and she got carried wide,” Velazquez said. “Today was totally different. She was closer, on the hands, and much better today.”
Owned by NY Final Furlong Racing Stable, Maspeth Stables and Parkland Thoroughbreds, Espresso Shot won her third career stakes and first since the Busher at Aqueduct in March 2019. The Staten Island was her first win in 11 starts dating to that victory.
“Turning for home, I saw Johnny was loaded. She had nowhere to go, but then she made the lead and that was it,” Abreu said.
Off at 6-1, Espresso Shot returned $15.20 on a $2 win wager. She improved her career earnings to $402,105. Three of her four career wins have come at the Big A.
“She really does love Aqueduct,” Abreu said. “The one-turn mile going seven-eighths, this is what she wants to do. We tried stretching her out and it didn’t work out. At Saratoga, she ran second and at Belmont she ran fifth. Then we ran her in the Iroquois, and Johnny got off her and said it was a little too short for her. She doesn’t have that late closing kick we think she has. She feels that way, but she doesn’t have it.”
Prairie Fire, trained by Linda Rice, finished 2 ½ lengths ahead of 6-5 favorite Officer Hutchy for second under jockey Jose Lezcano.
Bankers Daughter, Sadie Lady, Fight On Lucy and Steal My Heart completed the order of finish.
NYSSS Staten Island Replay
Live racing resumes Friday at the Big A with a 10-race card featuring three stakes races, including the Grade 3, $100,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies on the main track, the $100,000 Gio Ponti for sophomores on the turf and the $100,000 Forever Together for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on the grass. First post is 11:50 a.m.
Photo: Espresso Shot (Joe Labozzetta)