OZONE PARK, N.Y. — The stakes action at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday got off to a thrilling start as second-time starter Sy Dog came out on top over longshot Ohtwoohthreefive in a desperate finish in the $100,000 Central Park for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the outer turf course.
Trained by Graham Motion for Head of Plains Partners, Sy Dog entered the Central Park having just one race under his belt, a promising, four-length score going seven furlongs on the turf at Belmont Park on October 24, while Ohtwoohthreefive was one of the more experienced runners in the field having already made five starts in his young career.
Despite his lack of seasoning, Sy Dog was sent off as the very narrow 9-5 favorite over the Chad Brown-trained stakes winner General Ken, also 9-5 in the betting, who won the Awad at Belmont in his last start on November 5.
Deploying a tactic that netted him his impressive debut win, Sy Dog again found himself near the back of the pack under Luis Saez early in the Central Park as stretch-out sprinter Trust Daddy went out to lead the field with fellow Laurel Park shipper Wish Me Home keeping him company in second. The mid-Atlantic invaders ambled through reasonable splits of 24.44 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 49.12 for the half, and 1:13.28 for three-quarters, though both came up wanting when the field turned for home.
Under a full head of steam beneath Kendrick Carmouche, it was Ohtwoohthreefive that made the first move and blew the race wide open in upper stretch as Sy Dog remained patiently handled at the rear of the field. With a furlong to go it looked as though Ohtwoohthreefive was home free, but the upstart Sy Dog came with a relentless rally to just get his nostril down on the wire and prevail in a photo finish.
“I was a little worried,” said Saez. “The horses on the lead kept going, but when he switched his lead he gave me that last turn of foot, so he came pretty fast and right on time. A pretty exciting race.
“I didn’t really know [if I’d won], it was pretty tight,” added Saez. “It was close and the wire was right there so I wasn’t sure, but in the last jump we found we got it.”
Sy Dog, bred in Kentucky by Head of Plains Partners and Madaket Stables, completed the distance in 1:43.42 and returned $5.80 on a $2 win wager. With the winner’s share of the purse of $55,000, his career earnings stand at a nascent $104,500.
“You never know in the maiden races what you’re up against,” said Motion. “He’s made some of my other 2-year-olds look slow in the morning because he does things so easily. He’s very classy.
“I think we’ll get him down to Florida now,” added the trainer. “I’m not in a hurry to get him back but the Gulfstream stakes for 3-year-olds on the grass make the most sense.”
The New York-bred Maseta finished third, a length behind the runner-up and a head in front of a very unlucky General Ken. Ridden by Dylan Davis, General Ken was sitting in a pristine, stalking spot for the majority of the race, until his ground-saving journey turned out to be his undoing as he was glued to the rail in the stretch and unable to find any running room late.
Completing the order of finish were Grand Sonata, Geno, Wish Me Home and Trust Daddy.
Live racing resumes Sunday at the Big A with a 10-race card featuring the $150,000 Autumn Days in Race 7, the Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight in Race 8 and the $100,000 Tepin in Race 9. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: Sy Dog (SR Photo)