OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Alifyfe Racing’s Fingal’s Cave may not have made her first out-of-state venture a winning one, but she did give her connections plenty of hope moving forward, following a late-closing second in Saturday’s Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland. Trainer David Donk said the New York-bred daughter of Carpe Diem could target the nine-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Comely for sophomore fillies on November 25 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Fingal’s Cave entered the seven-furlong Raven Run unbeaten in four starts, and was cutting back in distance from the nine-furlong Fleet Indian on August 26 at Saratoga Race Course. She previously was an open-lengths winner against state-breds going one turn at Belmont Park this summer before facing open allowance company on July 29 going two-turns at Saratoga.
Fingal’s Cave was squeezed at the break of the Raven Run and forced to take to the rear of the nine-horse field under Joel Rosario before launching a late stretch rally to finish four lengths behind the victorious Wicked Halo, who captured the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga in her previous outing.
Donk noted the frontrunning favoritism the Keeneland main track appeared to display on Saturday, which made his filly’s effort all the more impressive.
“It was a really big step up for her and a big effort. She got squeezed a bit and checked at the start, which is not what you needed to happen the way the racetrack was playing,” Donk said. “The track was really playing to horses that were close up to the pace and that was kind of the plan. Joel had to go to Plan B after the break and I was impressed with the run she made, for her to finish up as well as she did because we hadn’t been seeing that at Keeneland.”
While options were aplenty for Fingal’s Cave, Donk ultimately decided to ship her to Keeneland to give her a try in a meaningful race against straight 3-year-old fillies. The nine-furlong $250,000 Empire Distaff and the 6 1/2-furlong $150,000 Iroquois against New York-breds next Sunday were options, but Fingal’s Cave would have been asked to face elders in either race.
“The decision to run there was to get her against fillies in her own division. We didn’t have that option in New York,” Donk said. “I could have run her against state-breds next week, but she would have had to face older fillies, which were comparable numbers that I think we were seeing in the Raven Run. And it’s a Grade 2. It was a good spot to give her a class test and I think we found out that we have a filly that belongs with them.”
Donk said the Comely will now be under serious consideration for Fingal’s Cave, bred in the Empire State by Chester and Mary Broman, before she gets a winter break in preparation for her 2023 season.
“It’s a good possibility, we’ll discuss with the owner. She seemed to cool out well and she will ship back to New York this afternoon,” Donk said. “I think everything is on the table. I think she would run once more and then we would put her away and freshen her up. I look to have her long-term and have nice 4 and 5-year-old seasons. She got started a little later than some of the fillies her age, and she’s accomplished a lot. Hopefully, we’ll have a lot of fun with her in the future.”
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Fingal’s Cave after making it four-for-four in the Fleet Indian (Janet Garaguso)
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