OZONE PARK, N.Y. – After completing last year with a stakes victory over the Aqueduct Racetrack turf, Plum Ali began her 4-year-old campaign in similar fashion when defeating a compact but quality field in Saturday’s $100,000 Plenty of Grace for fillies and mares going one mile.
Owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Michael J. Caruso, Plum Ali was last seen capturing the Big A’s Winter Memories on November 14 in wire-to-wire fashion, where she ended a seven-race losing streak in her sophomore swan song. With the race scratched down to an all stakes-winning field of four, the daughter of First Samurai displayed different tactics in her seasonal debut, where she saved ground along the backstretch and launched her bid in mid-stretch to win by a half-length.
Breaking from post 2 under return pilot Manny Franco, Plum Ali rated in third in the tightly packed field as the Javier Castellano-piloted Alms and 1-2 favorite Technical Analysis did battle up front through an opening quarter-mile in 23.99 seconds and 47.48 for the half over the firm going.
With Flower Point to her outside approaching the top of the stretch, Franco angled his charge several paths wide into the clear and in pursuit of the front. As Alms dropped back, Technical Analysis was in command passing the chute. But Plum Ali loomed large in deep stretch, collaring her foe in the final strides to the finish to win in a final time of 1:35.05. Technical Analysis finished a head to the better of Flower Point, followed by Alms.
Giacosa and main track only entrant Halo City were scratched.
“I just played the break because it’s a small field. It all depends on the beginning,” Franco said. “So, I saw Javier wanted to go with the six [Technical Analysis] and it set up perfectly for me. I just dropped my filly in, and she was nice and relaxed. When I tipped out at the quarter pole, I knew she would respond, and she got it done.”
The victory provided trainer Christophe Clement with his second Plenty of Grace victory after saddling inaugural winner Stellar Path in 2015.
“I told Manny to do whatever he wants. Be comfortable and the worst comes to worst, it’s a field of four – you can’t be more than two lengths from the lead; it was perfect,” Clement said. “It was a pretty consistent pace. It’s fun. The last race was a win and the first race is a win. Let’s try to do it again. She was unlucky last year. She finished second in the [Grade 3] Wonder Again and ran a very good race.”
Clement mentioned the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay on May 14 at Belmont Park as a possible next start for Plum Ali.
“It’s in four weeks and if she comes back well, we’ll do it. If she needs more time, then we’ll give her more time,” Clement said.
Plum Ali, who returned $9.40 for a $2 win wager, scored her fourth stakes victory through a consistent record of 12-5-1-1 record. During her juvenile season, she earned victories in the Mint Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs and the Grade 2 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park. Banking $55,000 in victory, Plum Ali enhanced her lifetime earnings to $731,000.
Klaravich Stables’ Technical Analysis, trained by five-time Plenty of Grace winning trainer Chad Brown, made her first start since finishing second to stablemate Shantisara in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October at Keeneland.
“She broke well and had a little company up front. I tried to keep her relaxed as best as I could,” said Dylan Davis, who piloted the Kingman filly for the first time. “She tends to get out a little turning for home – she did that at Saratoga and she did it again today. When I asked her, she stretched out, but I think she got outsprinted and a little tired late in the last sixteenth. She ran well and she’s a nice horse and should have a nice career in front of her.”
Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, Plum Ali is out of the Stroll mare Skipping. She was bought for $65,000 out of her breeder’s consignment barn at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Live racing resumes Thursday at the Big A with an eight-race program. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Aqueduct Racetrack, and the best way to bet every race of the spring meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
By Ryan Martin/NYRA Press Office
Photo: Plum Ali (Joe Labozzetta)