Stonewall Star rolling to the win. Photo by Susie Raisher
By Ryan Martin
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Barry Schwartz’s homebred Stonewall Star was rarely ever in doubt when taking down her first stakes conquest in Sunday’s ninth running of the $100,000 Key Cents for New York-bred juvenile fillies going six furlongs on the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Stonewall Star, a Flatter bay, went into the gate as the overwhelming 2-5 favorite in the six-horse field, arriving off a hard-fought third against males in the New York Breeders’ Futurity on October 17 at Finger Lakes for trainer Horacio De Paz. But she was much the best when squared up against her own gender, keeping maiden Weekend Rags at bay in the stretch rally to win by four lengths.
Stonewall Star was alert when breaking from post 5 under Jose Ortiz and quickly took command through an opening quarter-mile in 23.17 seconds over the fast main track with stakes-winner Small Pebbles one length back and one path to her outside down the backstretch. Stonewall Star extended her advantage approaching the turn as Weekend Rags split rivals and sat off the flank of the leader through a half-mile in 47.59.
Ortiz took a peek back approaching the quarter-pole and coaxed his charge into the stretch drive. Weekend Rags, who raced with blinkers on in her second lifetime start, put up a valiant effort, but was unable to reel in Stonewall Star, who covered the journey in 1:13.48.
Weekend Rags finished a neck ahead of late-closing Security Code, who also raced with blinkers on. Completing the order of finish were Dream On Cara, Three Unions and Small Pebbles.
Stonewall Star, who returned $2.90 for a $2 win wager, earned $55,000 in victory, bringing her lifetime bankroll past the six-figure mark to $130,808. Her record stands at 4-2-1-1 and includes a second-out maiden triumph on September 22 at Belmont at the Big A over next out winner Disruption and black type earning Silver Skillet.
“She moved forward off that race at Finger Lakes,” De Paz said. “I wanted her to get involved in the race, but she broke sharp today. I don’t know if that was by mistake; maybe getting settled in the gate a little bit, but she got great position early on.”
Ortiz expressed confidence in his filly following her strong showing in the New York Breeders’ Futurity.
“Going into the race, we kind of knew she was much the best. She faced the boys at Finger Lakes, and she ran a great race,” Ortiz said. “We were confident today and she didn’t disappoint. She got a good trip, broke very alert, and we were in control of the race every step of the way, which is what we wanted to do. She’s a nice filly.”
Ortiz said Stonewall Star is likely to be prominent in future starts through the winter.
“She has sat behind horses and took dirt [in the New York Breeders’ Futurity], but I think with the kind of pace [we see] in the winter, she’ll be on top,” Ortiz said. “If she’s got good position, she can sit off speed. That’s the good thing about her – she’s not a ‘one way’ horse; she can come from behind, and that’s a relief as a rider.”
De Paz said Stonewall Star, who was reluctant to load into the starting gate, can be a little bit fiery.
“She was on her toes,” De Paz said. “Obviously, the gate crew know her, too. She was definitely not trying to be compliant, but she went in and caught a flyer and got in a good spot.”
De Paz noted he would not rule out an open company start at some point in the future for Stonewall Star.
Bred by Schwartz’s Stonewall Farm, Stonewall Star is a full sister to three-time New York-bred stakes winner La Fuerza. Both are out of the two-time winning Proud Citizen mare Jonata.