OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Just Read It made amends in her second start against stakes company showing tactical speed and pursuing authority at the top of the stretch to edge a charging Exogen by a head in Saturday’s 28th running of the $100,000 Cicada for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Ray Handal, who co-owns the daughter of second crop sire Constitution with Ken Russell and Brown Road Racing, Just Read It arrived off a distant sixth in the February 26 Cincinnati Trophy over Turfway Park’s all-weather surface in her first venture outside the Big A. Returning to dirt proved to make a difference for Just Read It, who broke her maiden at second asking by 6 ¼ lengths at the Cicada distance on January 31 at Aqueduct.
Handal said he had the Cicada in mind prior to her last out endeavor, which did not appear to have much wear on the filly.
“She just didn’t like the synthetic,” Handal said. “I talked to [jockey] Manny Esquivel after the last race and he said she was coupled up and not really extending over the track. She shipped back and came out of the race in good order and I had this race in mind the whole time.
“I thought if she looked great after the Turfway race, I could run her in the Cicada,” Handal added. “She looked great and she actually got bigger and stronger. It’s just the time of the year that these young horses are developing and changing.”
Just Read It broke sharply under jockey Dylan Davis from her outside post and tracked from second position, while 4-5 favorite Save, with Kendrick Carmouche up, quickly established command from between horses and led the compact field through opening fractions of 23.12 and 47.66 seconds over a fast main track.
A stride past the quarter-pole, Just Read It confronted Save and took control into the stretch. As Save retreated at the furlong marker, longshot Exogen launched a late rail-riding rally under jockey Manny Franco. But Just Read It had enough to secure the triumph, stopping the clock in a final time of 1:12.81.
It was another 5 ¾ lengths back to third-place finisher Save, while Salt Plage completed the order of finish. The Handal-trained Irish Constitution was scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Erv Woolsey and Ralph Kinder, Just Read It banked $55,000 in victory and enhanced her lifetime earnings past the six-figure mark at $104,450 with a record of 4-2-0-0. Off at 3-1, she returned $8.20 for a $2 win wager.
“With Kendrick being the lone speed, I just wanted to make sure the pace was honest,” said Davis, who notched his fourth stakes win of the meet. “I was very happy with the way she warmed up. She broke well and put me there great; she was on the bridle and was able to settle nicely into the turn. We were just a little worried about the closers, but when I picked her up, she picked up great down the stretch. With Franco coming up the rail, I just had to keep her on it and keep her focused and she was able to get there.”
The race unfolded exactly the way Handal envisioned.
“She stalked, made her move and then held off the closer,” Handal said. “She really dug in and did what she had to. I was a little surprised the horse running at the end was the inside horse; Manny gave that horse a peach of a ride.”
Handal purchased Just Read It for $70,000 out of the OBS 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last June. She is out of the Broken Vow mare Mybrokenhome and comes from the same family as graded stakes-winning dirt sprint filly Venetian Harbor. Her fourth dam is 1989 Champion Sprinter and Hall of Famer Safely Kept.
The Cicada is named in honor of the first filly to be named champion at ages 2, 3 and 4. Owned by Meadow Stable, who were best known for campaigning the great Secretariat, Cicada captured prestigious events such as the Kentucky Oaks as well as the Frizette, Spinaway, Acorn and Mother Goose in New York. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct with an eight-race program. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
By Ryan Martin
Photo: Just Read It (outside #5) Exogen edging by a nose). (NYRA/Coglianese)