Mommasgottarun has plenty of run and rallies to win the Distaff (NYRA/Coglianese)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Ronald Stewart’s Mommasgottarun returned off just five day’s rest to make the grade for trainer Linda Rice in Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff Handicap, a seven-furlong main track sprint for older fillies and mares, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Mommasgottarun finished a pacesetting fifth under returning rider Eric Cancel in the nine-furlong Top Flight on Sunday at the Big A, but raced with different tactics in the Distaff, rallying from off-the-pace to secure the 1 1/2-length victory. She cut back to sprinting for the first time since she was haltered for $50,000 by Rice out of an off-the-board effort going the Distaff distance in December.
“I didn’t feel like she got the right trip and things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped in the Top Flight,” Rice said. “I was looking at both races trying to decide which one to use and I decided to go to the longer race, but it didn’t unfold how I’d hoped. But to get a graded placing for a filly is a big deal and that’s what I was hoping for [today].”
The daughter of Maclean’s Music emerged from the outermost post 7 as post-time favorite Rossa Veloce broke awkwardly to her inside under Jose Ortiz and trailed the field early. Gerrymander rushed up along the rail from her inside post to lead the field exiting the chute and through an opening quarter-mile in 23.60 seconds over the fast main track.
Rossa Veloce went six-wide in pursuit of the frontrunners down the backstretch while Mommasgottarun was held near the rear of the compact field. It was a three-way battle for the lead between Gerrymander, longshot Hydra and Rossa Veloce approaching the turn as Cancel began to coax Mommasgottarun to unleash a four-wide bid after a half-mile in 47.25. The Katie Davis-piloted Funny How was full of run through the turn, but could not find room along the inside and was forced to maneuver around foes.
Mommasgottarun took command at the top of the lane and drew clear from an all-out Rossa Veloce and Hydra while Funny How found her best stride late in the stretch and made one last try at the sixteenth pole, but could not make up the needed ground. Mommasgottarun remained well clear of her rival and crossed the wire first in a final time of 1:25.29.
Funny How held second by five lengths over Hydra, who bested Rossa Veloce out of show honors by a half-length. Gerrymander, Meraviglioso, and Easy to Bless completed the order of finish. Pass the Champagne was scratched.
Rice said she instructed Cancel to engineer a stalking trip after Mommasgottarun’s Top Flight effort showed her pacesetting tactics are ineffective when facing stiffer competition.
“I told Eric in the paddock, we have a nice outside post and she’s going to break and has natural speed away from the gate. So, just don’t rush this filly,” said Rice. “This filly has sprinted a lot – they sent her to the lead all the time, and she could only beat claiming horses that way. So, just sit against her and just don’t rush her.”
Cancel said Mommasgottarun showed a marked improvement in the short time from her last race.
“Last time, she didn’t perform like I wanted her to, but going back to seven-eighths is the right distance for her and she proved it today,” Cancel said. “Today, she was on the bit from the get go. I was just trying to sit patient and time everything just right.”
The Distaff is the second time in recent months that Rice has sent out a stakes winner on short rest. She enjoyed a victory in the Garland of Roses on December 10 with Betsy Blue, who entered from a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Go for Wand just seven days earlier.
“You have to figure out between the first time they ran and the second time, if they’re eating well enough, are they training well enough and sound enough? Are they happy or are they sulking? All those things go into play to lead them over here,” said Rice. “I trained this filly this morning. I watched her in the stall and I brought her back out before I left for Aqueduct to run one in the second race and jogged her up and down to look at her in the eye to decide if she could do it.”
Rice said she will consider either the one-mile Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian on May 6 and the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy, both at Belmont Park, as a potential next spot for Mommasgottarun.
“We’ll look at both and try to figure out which one to run in,” said Rice. “My gut feeling is the mile would be a better place for her. I think there’s fast sprinters out there, but we’ll keep the options open.”
Bred in Ontario by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Mommasgottarun is out of the Tiznow mare Love in Tokyo and hails from the family of 2010 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. She has hit the board in 4-of-5 starts since being claimed by Rice, including a one-mile optional claiming score on March 17 over the local going. She banked $82,500 for her Distaff victory, boosting her total purse earnings to $337,298 and improving her career record to 19-6-4-3. Mommasgottarun returned $16 for a $2 win ticket.
Katie Davis, who had ridden runner-up Funny How in two of her five consecutive wins heading into the Distaff, praised the Ray Handal trainee’s ability.
“She’s a very game filly so her confidence gives me confidence, knowing I can place her anywhere and knowing she can overcome anything,” said Davis. “She’s game and I love that fight in her. I didn’t want to get stuck down in there. I saw Eric kick on and I figured I might as well go to the outside and follow him, as opposed to sit and wait.”
Live racing resumes Saturday at the Big A with a lucrative 11-race card featuring the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, a 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifier, in Race 11; the Grade 1 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets in Race 8; the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore in Race 6; and the Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle, a 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifier, in Race 3. First post is 12:15 p.m. Eastern.