Star Devine just that when capturing the $150K Autumn Days (NYRA/Coglianese)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Larry Goichman’s Star Devine scored her second career stakes triumph with a prominent victory for trainer Jorge Abreu in Sunday’s $150,000 Autumn Days for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up sprinting six furlongs over Aqueduct Racetrack’s outer turf course.
The 4-year-old Fastnet Rock filly added to a victory in last year’s Galway at Saratoga Race Course where she closed from mid-pack to claim a narrow head victory over Illegal Smile. Star Devine showed different tactics in the Autumn Days and tracked close to the pace under Jose Ortiz, drawing away from her rivals in the stretch to earn the 1 1/4-length victory.
Star Devine broke well from post 7 in the eight-horse field, ducking down towards the three-path to stalk the early foot of Athwaaq, who marked off the opening quarter-mile in 23.05 seconds over the good footing. Star Devine put her nose in front as the field rounded the turn with Mail Order swinging four-wide and advancing towards the pacesetters. Change of Control and Lady Edith began their bids from the middle and back of the pack, respectively, after a half-mile in 46.83.
Star Devine was alone on the lead as the field straightened for the drive to the wire, but came under threat from Lady Edith and Change of Control as those two advanced with purpose down the center of the course. Change of Control made her last try at the lead from between horses with urging from jockey Colby Hernandez, but Star Devine had enough left to hold onto the victory over her two challengers in a final time of 1:11.78.
Change of Control secured place honors by one length over Lady Edith, who fended off stablemate Honey Pants by three-quarters of a length for third. Athwaaq, Gogo Shoes, Hit the Woah and Mail Order completed the order of finish. Stolen Holiday, Can’t Buy Love, Lemos Cunha, and main-track only entrants Betsy Blue, Self Isolation, Snicket and Itsakeyper were scratched.
Abreu praised the ride from Ortiz, who rode Star Devine once before to a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Mint Ladies Sprint in September at Kentucky Downs.
“Today, it looks like the speed has been holding up. Jose knows her from before when he rode her at Kentucky Downs,” said Abreu. “I told him to warm her up pretty well and keep her forwardly placed just because of how the track has been playing today.
“Ray Handal went wire-to-wire with a maiden a couple races ago, so there wasn’t much to lose,” Abreu added about Sweetlou’sgotaces’ frontrunning score in the Tepin earlier on the card. “Everything worked out well. She’s only run a couple of bad races out of 10, so I can live with that.”
Though the turf was listed as good, steady afternoon rain soaked the course and softened it, something Ortiz said was not a problem for the talented bay.
“It was very soft but she broke good and handled it good from the get-go. I was very pleased around the three-eighths pole,” said Ortiz. “She started running when I asked her to and I could hear them [coming], but I was very confident she had good pace and good momentum. Of course, you never know for sure, and the two-horse [Change of Control] is a very nice mare and I respect her a lot. I felt like she was behind me every step of the way, and I was a little worried around the quarter-pole because she was getting close to me.”
Star Devine entered the Autumn Days from a graded placing when third in the Grade 3 Franklin on October 16 at Keeneland. Earlier this season, she finished a close second to subsequent Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Caravel in the Grade 3 Intercontinental in June at Belmont Park. Star Devine banked $82,500 in victory and now boasts $313,165 in total purse earnings through a record of 10-3-2-2.
Bred in Ireland by Rockhart Trading, Star Devine was purchased for $258,109 at the 2019 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. She returned $8.40 for a $2 win wager.
Abreu said Star Devine will get some time off in Florida next.
“She’ll go to the farm for 60 days and we’ll regroup next year and see how everything plays out,” said Abreu. “She’ll go to Nick de Meric and we’ll get her back at Palm Meadows and then get her going.”
The Michelle Lovell-trained Change of Control, who is nearing millionaire status with $983,925 in earnings, entered the Autumn Days looking to defend her title after taking last year’s running by three-quarters of a length over Too Sexy. Hernandez said the daughter of Fed Biz gave it her all.
“She ran a real hard race down the lane,” said Hernandez. “She dug in and tried real hard, but every time she dug in she kind of bobbled over that soft turf. She ran a real game race. She put me in a perfect spot sitting right off the leader and she tried very hard.”
Live racing resumes Thursday at the Big A with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of the Aqueduct fall meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
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