Evvie Jets and Javier Castellano never headed in the Perfect Sting (Susie Raisher)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.— The Estate of Robert J. Amendola’s graded stakes-winner Evvie Jets led every step of the way to notch her third career stakes triumph in Sunday’s $150,000 Perfect Sting, a one-mile Widener turf test for older fillies and mares, at Belmont Park.
Trained by Mertkan Kantarmaci and piloted to victory by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, Evvie Jets stayed well in command throughout to land a half-length triumph over pace-pressing post-time favorite Technical Analysis, who, along with Haughty and Customer List, was part of a formidable triad for conditioner Chad Brown. It was Evvie Jets’ second win in three starts this year, adding to another stakes score in the Plenty of Grace in April at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“Unbelievable. She just has so much heart,” said Michael Amendola, son of Evvie Jets’ late owner Robert Amendola. “Put her toe-to-toe with anybody and she fights on. It’s a true test of her being a great racehorse. We have so much trust in her and we were excited to have Javier aboard today. She’s been training great and we had her in a great spot. It was a nice surprise, but it wasn’t a surprise.”
Away from the outermost post 5 at odds of 8-1, Evvie Jets broke sharpest of all with Technical Analysis ranging up to her inside to stay within striking range while Customer List broke a step slow and trailed through an opening quarter-mile in 23.36 seconds over the firm footing.
Technical Analysis, with Jose Ortiz in the irons, preserved her inside stalking position down the backstretch with stablemate Haughty giving chase on the outside as the half-mile elapsed in 46.77. Ortiz angled Technical Analysis to the outside of her pacesetting foe approaching the turn to take dead aim at Evvie Jets with Haughty going widest of all under Flavien Prat.
Castellano shook the reins approaching the top of the lane and Evvie Jets responded, finding another gear as Technical Analysis came within a half-length at the eighth pole but was in an all-out drive and unable to make up further ground. A valiant Evvie Jets had enough left in the end to stave off her rival and cross the wire first in a final time of 1:33.99, returning $19.60 for a $2 win ticket.
Haughty kept on for show honors as the late-running Tic Tic Tic Boom completed the superfecta. Customer List, who flattened out after a brief bid in the turn, completed the order of finish.
Kantarmaci, who won his third race of the Belmont spring/summer meet, said he was confident Evvie Jets could take on the trio of Chad Brown trainees.
“I see that Chad’s three horses were really strong competition for today, but we were at our best distance and we knew she was going to make her race,” Kantarmaci said. “The rival doesn’t always run each race the same race – you need to run against them and if you make your race, you can beat them. She did her race.”
Although Evvie Jets has shown proficiency both on and off the pace, Kantarmaci said it was a wise decision by Castellano to take charge when Technical Analysis did not.
“I think this is the right move because she gets more comfortable on the lead and she has the ability to answer,” said Kantarmaci. “If the pace is slowed down already, she has the ability to give the second kick instead of the waiting horses make the kick.”
Castellano, who scored his second stake this weekend and fourth of the meet, said it was Evvie Jets’ race to lose once she made the lead.
“These are the types of races that you have to use the best judgement,” said Castellano. “They [Technical Analysis] had speed and I had speed. I could either be aggressive and try to win the race, or be conservative and maybe get second or third. I tried to play the break and I didn’t see anyone taking the lead, so I took it myself to dictate the pace. My horse loved it. The way she did it, you can see the fractions were easy and she was traveling really well. Turning for home, when I asked her, she responded really well.”
Bred in Kentucky by Farfellow Farms, Evvie Jets attained graded stakes glory when taking the Grade 3 Noble Damsel in October at Belmont at the Big A, which provided Kantarmaci with his first graded victory as a trainer. She boasts a record of 20-6-6-2 and banked $82,500 for her latest victory.
Kantarmaci said potential targets for Evvie Jets could include the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2, $300,000 Ballston Spa on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course, or the one-mile Grade 1 First Lady on October 7 at Keeneland.
“I think we should keep her in New York, in her own barn in her own home where she trains,” Kantarmaci said. “If she’s really doing good, we look a little more higher levels with her. We go by distance first. Let’s see what she shows in a couple weeks and go from there.”
Ortiz praised the runner-up effort from multiple graded stakes-winner Technical Analysis, who made her first start off a nearly nine-month layoff.
“Usually, Chad has them pretty ready to go off the layoff and my filly ran a great race,” Ortiz said. “I thought the winner ran a great race, too. We went pretty fast down the backside.”
Live racing resumes Monday at Belmont with a nine-race card, featuring the $125,000 Hudson Valley in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.