OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Chris Fountoukis’ Montauk Traffic gave trainer Linda Rice her third stakes triumph of the meet when making a furious last-to-first rally to take Saturday’s $100,000 Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Montauk Traffic, a gray son of third-crop sire Cross Traffic, arrived at the seven-furlong event for sophomores off a 4 ½-length graduation at second asking over the Aqueduct main track at the Big A on December 28.
Piloted by Aqueduct leading rider Jose Lezcano, Montauk Traffic was well off the pace in the early stages while 8-5 favorite Secret Rules and 35-1 longshot Johnny Ritt raced in tandem, recording an opening quarter-mile in 23.07 seconds, 3 ½ lengths in front of dual stakes winner Newstome.
With the half-mile in 46.77 seconds, the seven-horse field became more tightly packed with Montauk Traffic on the rail in last place.
At the top of the stretch, the two pacesetters maintained command with Johnny Ritt in front by a head. Montauk Traffic lacked racing room approaching the eighth-pole but Lezcano angled his charge out three-wide and following his cue, Montauk Traffic responded with a winning move and drew away by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:25.64. Secret Rules to complete the exacta 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Johnny Ritt.
Rounding out the order of finish were Old Chestnut, Newstome, Polar Bear Pete and Quixotic.
Returning $7.60 for a $2 win bet as the third choice, Montauk Traffic gave Lezcano his seventh stakes win of the meet.
“I knew the 5 and the 2 [Johnny Ritt and Secret Rules] would be going, but I knew this is a type of horse where you can do whatever you want with him,” Lezcano said. “I had so much horse and with him, he responds very quick. I think he can go any distance.”
Rice, who notched her first win in the Jimmy Winkfield since Second in Command won in 2003, expressed satisfaction in the horse’s performance and said that he has developed well in his trio of outings.
“I was very pleased with his performance today. I could see he wasn’t very comfortable being hustled aggressively to keep up with the fast fractions,” Rice said. “Jose let him drop back and went inside before circling outside. I was thrilled he was able to get up. He’s continuing to mature and shown a lot of ability in his three starts so far.”
Rice, who already has a contender on the Kentucky Derby trail with last Saturday’s Grade 3 Withers winner Max Player, said the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 7 at Aqueduct is now in play for Montauk Traffic.
The one-turn mile offers 50-20-10-5 qualifying points to the top-four finishers and was captured by last year’s Jimmy Winkfield winner Haikal.
“This horse I’d like to point towards the Gotham. Max Player we’ll point towards the [Grade 2, $750,000] Wood [Memorial, April 4].”
Montauk Traffic banked $55,000 in triumph which pushed his lifetime earnings to $94,000 with a record of 3-2-0-0.
Bred in Kentucky by Mike Rutherford, Montauk Traffic is out of the graded stakes-winning Menifee broodmare Taittinger Rose.
Live racing resumes on Sunday afternoon at the Big A with an intriguing card headlined by the $100,000 Biogio’s Rose. Sunday’s nine-race ledger will include a mandatory payout in the Empire 6 wager, which currently boasts a jackpot of $363,535, that will start in Race 4 with an approximate post time of 2:25 p.m.
Eastern. First post on Sunday is 1 p.m. Eastern.
Via NYRA Press Release