Scrappy Pandagate Scampers Win in Gander

February 25, 2024

Pandagate has a glimmer of his grey Arrogate face through the dirt collected on his victory in the Gander. (Chelsea Durand)

By Keith McCalmont

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Pandagate overcame a troubled start to score by 5 1/2-lengths in Sunday’s $100,000 Gander, a one-turn mile for New York-bred sophomores, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Christophe Clement for owners Adelphi Racing Club, Madaket Stables, Corms Racing Stable and On The Rise Again Stable, the Arrogate grey made his stakes debut a winning one with a stalk-and-pounce score under Dylan Davis.

“Dylan knows him well and it was a perfect ride. He was a little bit lost coming out of the gate and Dylan got him to settle,” Clement said. “Then he got into a very good rhythm and when he decided to pick it up, he finished well. He’s a nice horse and by Arrogate – it’s a nice family. Everything seems to be working out nicely, and I’m just very grateful to the owners. I’m delighted to train this kind of horse.”

Liberty Central broke alertly under Jose Gomez but it was the Eric Cancel-piloted The Big Torpedo that emerged from the rail draw to mark the opening quarter-mile in 24.42 seconds over the fast main track. 

The Big Torpedo held a precarious lead down the backstretch with Liberty Central taking command in front of Doc Sullivan as Pandagate, who was squeezed at the break, paid close attention from fifth position as a half-mile elapsed in 48.55. Davis gave Pandagate his cue through the turn and the 7-5 favorite loomed large with a wide run to overtake the pacesetters and draw off to a comfortable score in a final time of 1:40.67. Doc Sullivan completed the exacta by a neck over Liberty Central with Brown Don’t Stop, The Big Torpedo and Bali Amour rounding out the order of finish.

Dylan Davis super happy about the Gander victory with Pandagate. (Susie Raisher)
Dylan Davis super happy about the Gander victory with Pandagate. (Susie Raisher)

“He did get a little bump there at the break, but he got into stride, got on the bridle, and switched off, then at the three-eighths pole, I turned him out,” Davis said. “It took a little while to get going but once he did that, he was game. I kept him to task all the way to the wire because he is still a young horse that doesn’t know what is going on, but he has a nice big stride and galloped out, not really that tired.

“It was exciting,” added Davis regarding the impressive closing kick. “You want a horse to show more and keep improving. He didn’t really get that tired, he’s got a nice stride and it’s always good to see.”

Trevor McCarthy said the Mike Miceli-trained Doc Sullivan performed well in his stakes debut when following the run of the Patrick Quick-conditioned Liberty Central.

“Mike said he wasn’t a big fan of dirt in his face, so obviously I was going to lay second or third depending on Pat’s horse on the outside,” McCarthy said. “When he outbroke me, it was great. I was able to make my way out as soon as possible and get him in a great rhythm. We came to the five-sixteenths, and I felt Dylan creeping up and I just tried to get his momentum going. I think we were just second best.”

Pandagate, a $130,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale purchase, graduated by nine-lengths traveling the Gander distance in October here in a state-bred maiden special weight. He followed with a troubled third-place effort in an open optional-claiming route in December at Laurel Park before enjoying a winter training session in Florida at Payson Park that included a recent five-eighths bullet work in 1:01.80 in company with Grade 3 Gotham-contender Deterministic.

“He’s been training very, very well at Payson Park and we were excited to see him run,” Clement said. “Thank you to all the owners to be so patient. He’s a stakes winner and a New York-bred going long on dirt, so it’s a lot of fun for us.”

Pandagate, bred by Fred W. Hertrich, III, is out of the stakes-placed Sky Mesa mare Kitty Panda, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-placed Akilina. Both Kitty Panda and Akilina were trained by Clement. Pandagate banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 3-2-0-1. He returned $4.80 for a $2 win bet.

Live racing resumes Thursday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

This is so beautifully written; You bought a horse and took him to a farm moved me. Bless You.

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