Mommasgottarun defies short rest and makes the grade in the Distaff (Chelsea Durand)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Trainer Linda Rice enjoyed graded stakes success on Friday and Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack when she sent out Ronald P. Stewart’s Mommasgottarun to win the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap and Winning Move Stable’s Joey Freshwater to take Saturday’s Grade 3 Bay Shore.
Both horses have proven well worth their $50,000 purchase prices after they were claimed out of efforts in December and November, respectively.
“You never anticipate winning a Grade 3 with a horse that you claimed,” Rice said, with a laugh. “We claim horses with the idea to win a few races before we lose them in another claiming race. Ideally, we want to claim a horse that we can keep long term and win big races, like Joey Freshwater and Mommasgottarun.”
Mommasgottarun was claimed out of a lackluster fifth-place finish on December 31 here and has turned things around for Rice, winning 3-of-5 starts since and finishing second in another. She entered the seven-furlong Distaff on just five day’s rest after a pacesetting fifth-place finish in last Sunday’s nine-furlong Top Flight and made the grade next out with a stalking trip engineered by Eric Cancel.
“We entered on Sunday before she had even run in the first race and the racing secretary said, ‘You’re going to run in there?’ I said, ‘I might,’” said Rice, with a laugh. “I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out what race was better for her tactically, and obviously I chose the wrong one [in the Top Flight]. A filly like her who has no conditions left, you have to find the right opportunities for them. They don’t come along every day, and the filly was strong and healthy. As they get older, they can race more frequently provided you don’t run them too much as a young horse.”
Rice said both the one-mile Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian on May 6 and the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy on May 14, both at Belmont Park, are under consideration for the filly’s next outing.
It did not take Rice long to visit the winner’s circle again for a graded event, saddling Joey Freshwater to his Bay Shore victory the next day. Ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, the son of Jimmy Creed chased the pace down the backstretch of the seven-furlong sprint before taking command at the top of the stretch and never looking back under confident handling from Carmouche, crossing the wire first by 1 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:24.91.
“I thought we were in a good spot and that was a nice group of horses,” said Rice. “I liked the trip and it was just a matter of if he [Carmouche] had enough horse.”
Joey Freshwater, who Rice claimed out of a winning effort on November 27 at Churchill Downs, entered from a close runner-up finish against older horses on March 19 at the Big A, an effort Rice said gave her confidence heading into the Bay Shore.
“He came back good,” said Rice. “It was a big effort and I had struggled to get a race for him for a while. I finally had to run him against older horses to get him a race. I think he benefitted from that race as far as seasoning and fitness. It wasn’t ideal to do run him against older, but it served a purpose.”
Rice said it is likely Joey Freshwater could have one more start before a potential engagement in the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun on June 10 at Belmont Park. A logical stepping stone could be the six-furlong $150,000 Gold Fever on May 12 over Big Sandy.
“We could use the Gold Fever and if he succeeds in that, we could point towards the Grade 1,” said Rice. “I know that’s a tall task, so I think we should take baby steps.”
Rice also saddled Chester and Mary Broman’s multiple graded stakes-placed New York-bred Arctic Arrogance to a fourth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino where the Frosted colt contested the pace and was passed at the top of the stretch by the top-three trio of Dreamlike, Hit Show, and the victorious Lord Miles.
Rice said Arctic Arrogance was brave in defeat, but demonstrated his distance limitations as he failed to hit the board for the first time in seven career starts.
“He’s good this morning, and I think he’s really just best at a mile,” Rice said. “I’m sure he could win at a mile and an eighth against a little easier group, but not Kentucky Derby contenders.”
Arctic Arrogance, who finished second in three Kentucky Derby preps at the Big A this winter, will now turn his attention to shorter races, which could include the Grade 2, $500,000 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs, or the one-mile Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer on July 1 at Belmont with a start in the seven-furlong state-bred Mike Lee on May 29 as a springboard.
“We could give him a little break and use the Mike Lee as a prep for the flat mile in July,” Rice said. “There’s also the Pat Day Mile, so there’s options for him. He’s had a good campaign and shows up every time. He’ll get his day in the sun.”