Evvie Jets Honors Late Owner With $100K Plenty of Grace Win

April 16, 2023

Evvie Jets (#2 inside) tenacious in the Plenty of Grace over Malavath (NYRA/Coglianese)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Graded stakes-winner Evvie Jets honored her late owner Robert J. Amendola with a tenacious neck victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Plenty of Grace, a one-mile turf test for older fillies and mares over the Aqueduct Racetrack inner turf.

Trained by Mertkan Kantarmaci and ridden by Eric Cancel, the daughter of Twirling Candy made her first start since a runner-up finish in the Forever Together in November.

Michael Amendola, Robert Amdendola’s son, said bringing the mare back to win in her first start of the season is an emotional and fitting way to honor his father, who had prompted Kantarmaci to claim Evvie Jets for $80,000 in September 2021.

“It’s overwhelming and exciting. It’s a good day,” said Amendola. “My dad was with us today and Eric rode her perfectly. He’s been putting in a lot of time working her in the morning. It’s a great day for the team. We had expectations, of course, but we just wanted her to run good and come out of the race good. We’ll see what happens next.”

Evvie Jets scored a wire-to-wire victory, exiting post 2 and waltzing to the lead while New York-bred Runaway Rumour laid close to her outside past the stands for the first time. Runaway Rumour eased back 1 1/2 lengths through the turn and Evvie Jets set comfortable fractions of 25.07 seconds and 49.69 over the firm footing with post-time favorite Malavath in third and the Manny Franco-piloted Whitebeam a close fourth.

Malavath lost ground into the turn while Franco roused Whitebeam for more and advanced to the outside of Evvie Jets, who kept to task under confident handling from Cancel and held a one-length advantage at the stretch call. Whitebeam closed strongly down the center of the racetrack with every stride, but Evvie Jets dug in when shown the crop by Cancel near the sixteenth pole and found enough late to repel her rival in a final time of 1:35.73.

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Runaway Rumour finished another 1 3/4 lengths behind Whitebeam to round out the trifecta with Spirit And Glory, who trailed down the backstretch, and Malavath completing the order of finish. Toned Up and main-track only entrant Impazible Donna were scratched.

Evvie Jets has run first or a close second in each start where she has had the lead through the first two points of call. Kantarmaci said he was confident when he saw how the race shaped up through the first half-mile.

“She broke really well and after that Eric knows how to set her up for the race. First turn, take it easy, and all the way [down the] backstretch nobody bothered us,” Kantarmaci said. “That was a big help. I saw the 49.69 and that was beautiful for her because I know she can finish that pace easily.”

Cancel, who has piloted Evvie Jets in her last nine outings, said the bay mare relishes a challenge.

Evvie Jets heads to the winner’s circle after an emotional victory (NYRA/Coglianese)

“She is a fighter. She likes when horses come up right next to her and she really grinds it out,” said Cancel. “I was just concerned if they went by her and away from her a little bit. That was the only way that they were going to get away from me. But once she felt the other filly [Whitebeam], she just kept on going.

“She’s been doing wonderful,” Cancel added. “They’ve done a great job with her. She’s very lazy in the mornings but she had been working well. I told them that she was ready to run and she didn’t prove us wrong.”

A logical next step for Evvie Jets could be the Grade 3, $175,000 Beaugay on May 7 at Belmont Park where she would face a stretch-out to 1 1/16 miles. Kantarmaci said he is unsure how Evvie Jets would handle the extra sixteenth in graded company.

“It depends how she comes back from the race,” Kantarmaci said. “I think the mile is best for her because she has time to break and settle and then give the second gear we expect from her. The mile and a sixteenth is a question mark for her with the stronger horses.”

Bred in Kentucky by Farfellow Farms, Evvie Jets banked $55,000 for the victory and notched the second stakes score of her career, adding to a graded triumph in last year’s Grade 3 Noble Damsel over the Big A turf. She boasts a record of 18-5-6-2 with total purse earnings of $446,530 and returned $11.80 for a $2 win ticket.

Franco, who currently leads the Aqueduct spring meet jockey standings, said the pedestrian pace hindered the Chad Brown-trained Whitebeam in her American debut.

“I was covered up in behind the four [Runaway Rumour]. I gave the best chance to my filly,” said Franco. “It just didn’t help with the scenario today with no pace. I just wanted to make sure she was nice and relaxed because she was keen in the beginning. After this race, she will keep improving. I think she’s a nice filly.”

Live racing resumes Thursday at the Big A with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.  

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