OZONE PARK, N.Y. — Sent off as an overwhelming favorite in Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack, the undefeated Search Results extended her win streak to three with a facile, 2 ¾-length score in the 125th running of the 1 ⅛-mile dirt race, while in the process stamping her ticket to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on April 30 at Churchill Downs.
Despite the change in circumstances on Saturday, stretching out from one mile in her last start to nine panels in the Gazelle with Irad Ortiz, Jr. back aboard, Search Results’ trip essentially mirrored her last-out run in the Busher Invitational, in which she stalked a tepid early pace and pounced in the stretch.
The Chad Brown trainee broke well from outermost post 6 in the Gazelle and had worked herself into second as the field went into the clubhouse turn, content to track Alwayz Late, who led the field through moderate splits of 24.88 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 50.09 for the half.
It wasn’t until the far turn, through three-quarters in 1:15.06, that Search Results and Ortiz commenced their move, rallying in tandem with stablemate The Grass Is Blue. The pacesetting Alwayz Late readily ceded the lead to the favorite as she charged into the stretch, and soon thereafter it became apparent that The Grass Is Blue wasn’t going to be able to match strides with her, either.
With nothing but open racetrack in front of her and seemingly no viable challengers, it looked like smooth sailing for Search Results in the expansive Big A stretch, but longshot Maracuja emerged from the back of the pack under Kendrick Carmouche and launched a menacing rally on the outside. At the eighth pole it appeared as though the finish could get tight, but a resolute Search Results dug in late and safely held off her upstart competitor, stopping the clock in 1:54.14 on a main track rated fast.
“I thought she [Search Results] was very professional today,” said Brown. “She maybe lost focus when she surged to the front and there was no one around her in deep stretch. When she had a horse in front of her, I loved the way she was moving into the bit. I was relieved to see that she could handle the mile and an eighth. We were cautiously optimistic, but you always have to see them do it first to be sure.”
A daughter of Flatter owned by Klaravich Stables, Search Results began her career earlier this year on January 3 at Gulfstream Park with a three-length win going six furlongs before immediately stepping up to take down stakes company at the Big A in the Busher Invitational on March 6. While that win over Miss Brazil went a long way toward establishing her as a top sophomore filly, it didn’t guarantee her a berth to the Kentucky Oaks, which has now effectively been accomplished with the 100 qualifying points she earned for her Gazelle victory. With the Oaks less than a month away, Brown has April 30 circled on the calendar as her next target.
“If she comes out of it in good shape, that would be the next step and it’s something we’ve been working towards,” said the New York-based horseman. “Although she got her season started late, she seems to be catching up fast on this crop. She seems like one of the contenders, at least, so we’re thankful for that.”
Search Results returned $2.80 on a $2 win wager as the odds-on favorite and bumped her bankroll to $299,000 with the winner’s share of the purse of $137,500.
Runner-up Maracuja, who entered the Gazelle off a 6 ½-furlong maiden win at Aqueduct, ran a gallant race in defeat for trainer Rob Atras and owner Beach Haven Thoroughbreds. The Honor Code filly had yet to run beyond seven furlongs in her career prior to Saturday and had also failed to crack a Beyer Speed Figure in the 70’s, but two-turn racing proved to be to her liking as she finished a clear second, 3 ¾ lengths ahead of the next-closest finisher.
“I loved this filly today,” said Kendrick Carmouche, jockey aboard Maracuja. “I knew coming from six and a half [furlongs] and stretching out to a mile and an eighth, I just wanted to get a good break and ride her like I did last time. She made a big run and did it well. I’m looking forward to riding her next time because this distance should really move her forward.”
For the effort Maracuja banked 40 qualifying points toward a berth in the Oaks, which would give her a solid chance at making the race should her connections opt to go that route.
“The Oaks has been the owner’s goal with this filly,” said Atras. “We lost a little bit of time with her in the summer and it took her a few starts to break her maiden, but this is a big step forward. We’ll see how she comes out of the race and go from there. I know Kendrick is happy with her. He was more confident than I was today.”
Army Wife netted 20 points for her third-place finish, while The Grass Is Blue picked up 10 points in fourth. Turf transplants Alwayz Late and Mia Martina completed the order of finish.
With no card scheduled for Easter Sunday at the Big A, racing will resume next Thursday, April 8, with first post set for 1:20 p.m. ET.
Aqueduct Press Release
Photo: Search Results (NYRA/Coglianese)