Just Read It proves quick study after Cicada win for Handal

March 21, 2021

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Just Read It took the next step in her career on Saturday, capitalizing on a forwardly placed trip behind the favorite Save before taking command in the stretch and holding off a charging Exogen by a head in the $100,000 Cicada for sophomore fillies at Aqueduct.

The lightly raced Just Read It was making just her fourth career start and second stakes appearance earning a 73 Beyer for her first stakes black type effort. The Constitution filly made her debut on December 20, running fourth at the Big A, before breaking her maiden at the same six-furlong distance at the Ozone Park track, registering a 6 1/4-length score on January 31.

After finishing a dull sixth over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park in the Cincinnati Trophy on February 26, trainer Ray Handal moved Just Read It back to the more familiar dirt, where she looked comfortable yesterday in besting a four-horse field.

“She was bright-eyed and alert looking for her morning feed,” Handal said with a laugh. “She’s a keeper. She’s quiet and trains the right way and does it all the right way. In that aspect, I’m very lucky. She checked another box. We don’t have anything set just yet for her, but we’ll probably keep her sprinting in the 3-year-old filly-stakes division and preferably here in New York so we can stay home.”

Just Read It, purchased for $70,000 at last year’s Ocala Breeders July 2-Year-Old Sale, is owned by Handal, Ken Russell and Brown Road Racing. She had been training at Saratoga in the summer before being shipped to her current base at Belmont Park before making her debut.

“We’ve seen progress but I don’t think we’ve seen her best yet,” Handal said. “I still think there’s room for improvement and she’ll continue to improve. She went through such a growth spurt. It’s crazy; she keeps getting bigger. I couldn’t believe when she got off the van how much bigger she got, and hopefully she keeps on developing like that. With a four or five-week break between races, maybe she can be even better.”

Jockey Dylan Davis piloted Just Read It to victory in the third race, adding another highlight to a strong meet that unfortunately came to an abrupt end in the ninth-race finale when Davis broke his clavicle in a spill and will be out six-to-eight weeks.

Davis had ridden multiple winners for Handal during the current Aqueduct winter meet, adding victories aboard American Gentleman, Shamrocked and Dealing Justice.

“It’s so unfortunate; he’s a tough guy and a tenacious jockey,” Handal said. “He has a high racing IQ and great decision making and awareness. It really stands out to me when watching races. He can slow down the game so much. I just hope he comes back well and I’ll go visit him in a few days when the dust settles and just check on him and keep his spirits up. This is the time of the year when everyone is getting cranked up. I told Mike Migliore, [Davis’ agent] to not worry and he’ll be part of the rotation here when he comes back.”

Foolish Ghost earned the highest Beyer of his 30-race career when he garnered a 94 for his six-length route against allowance company going six furlongs on March 7 at the Big A. Handal said the 6-year-old Mineshaft gelding will return to Aqueduct in a couple of weeks.

“I’ll probably run him in a [second-level allowance] on April 2,” Handal said. “He’s really fast and I think he’s going to keep getting better. I told the owner after I ran him the first time that I think we can win stakes races with this horses. We’ll find some spots for him down the road. Right now, I’ll just run him against New York breds in these conditions and figure it out from there.”

Foolish Ghost, who made his debut in 2017, is 7-6-4 with earnings of $333,802 but has not started in a stakes yet. He was bred in New York by Pinnacle Farms and is owned by Ken Russell and Richard Newman Racing.

“He looks like he’s in the prime of his career. He’s impressive to look at and very imposing,” Handal said.

Perrine Time Thoroughbreds’ Kansas Kis is doing well one week after running third in the six-furlong Correction at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old daughter of Constitution, who was making her first stakes appearance in 10 months, is 1-1-2 in her last four starts, compiling a consistent record of 2-4-4 in 13 career races dating to her third-place debut in August 2019 at the Spa.

Kansas Kis could be on target for the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap on May 8 at Belmont, with Handal saying she could make another tune-up start before taking the step up in class. 

“She’s doing great. She’s a tough cookie,” Handal said. “I was going to give her a refresher before that. We’ll revisit it. The Vagrancy is the target but I may start her once before that. She’s been running pretty regularly and pretty hard for the winter now, so I don’t want to beat her up for the year. But if we can get this race in, it could be nice spacing into that stakes race.”

Cross Country Pick 5 pays $11K; total pool 96K

Saturday’s Cross Country Pick 5 paid $11,732.25 for selecting all five winners for the 50-cent wager at races from Aqueduct and Oaklawn. The sequence’s total pool was $96,633.

Oaklawn kicked things off when Emerald Princess came through at 7-1 in a six-furlong main track contest for 3-year-old filly maidens in Race 6. Emerald Princess, with Alex Canchari aboard, bested Shes Got It by three-quarters of a length, completing the course in 1:11.74. The McLean Robertson trainee paid $17 on a $2 win wager.

Aqueduct made its first foray into the mix with a thrilling finish as Dark Money edged Bustin Timberlake by a nose to win a six-furlong allowance optional claiming tilt for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up in Race 8. Dark Money, trained by Karl Broberg, rallied from fifth to hit the wire in 1:11.81. Also off at 7-1, Dark Money returned $17.40.

An even bigger upset occurred in Oaklawn’s Race 7, as 16-1 Newsflash registered a two-length score in a six-furlong claiming race for 3-year-olds. Trained by Jason Barkley, News Flash paid $34.60, recording a final time of 1:10.53.

Aqueduct’s ninth-race finale saw Summer Brew win by 2 3/4 lengths in a six-furlong maiden race for New York-bred sophomore fillies. Trained by Jorge Abreu and ridden by Eric Cancel, Summer Brew [$8.70] won at 3-1, posting a final time of 1:13.76.

Oaklawn ensured the entire sequence did not have a single victorious favorite when Heartbreaker, at 11-1, topped Megatap by a half length in a six-furlong maiden claimer in Race 8. Trained by Philip D’Amato and ridden by Richard Eramia, Heartbreaker [$25.60] ensured the sizable payout, notching a 1:11.51 final time.

The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is also available on track, on ADW platforms, and at simulcast facilities across the country. Every week will feature a mandatory payout of the net pool.

The Cross Country Pick 5 will continue each Saturday throughout the year. For more information, visit NYRABets.com.

Aqueduct Stable Notes

Photo: Just Read It battles Exogen in the Cicada. (Chelsea Durand)

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