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2023 Carter Handicap Replay | Doppelganger Upsets Repo Rocks; 1st Grade 1 Win For Toledo, Russell
Sophie Shore/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

2023 Carter Handicap Replay | Doppelganger Upsets Repo Rocks; 1st Grade 1 Win For Toledo, Russell

Doppelganger won the 2023 Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct, upsetting the heavy favorite Repo Rocks at 17/1 while giving both jockey Jevian Toledo & trainer Brittany Russell their first career win at the highest level. Is the Into Mischief colt the best older dirt sprinter in America right now? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Doppelganger forged his own identity on Saturday, running down four horses from the far outside in the stretch to capture the seven-furlong Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets for 4-year-olds and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Doppelganger, the longest shot on the board at 17-1, gave his connections milestone victories, earning trainer Brittany Russell her second career graded stakes score and first career Grade 1 win, while jockey Jevian Toledo notched his first Grade 1 victory in a career approaching 8,500 starts.

Breaking from the outside post, Doppelganger benefitted from Toledo’s patient ride, content to sit in fifth as Today’s Flavor led the six-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.40 seconds and the half in 44.84 on the fast main track, with Little Vic and Expressman in close pursuit and 4-5 favorite Repo Rocks in fourth position.

Out of the turn, Toledo angled his charge from the rail to the outside. When presented with daylight, the 4-year-old Into Mischief colt surged in the final furlong, overtaking Little Vic, Repo Rocks, Expressman and Today’s Flavor, thundering home in a final time of 1:23.25. The effort bested Repo Rocks by 1 1/4 lengths as Doppelganger posted his first stakes win in seven attempts.

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The 123rd edition of the Carter, the third of four stakes on a card highlighted by the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, saw Repo Rocks edge Expressman by a nose for second. Today’s Flavor and Bold Journey finished fourth and fifth, respectively, while Little Vic, who was reported to have bled, completed the order of finish.

White Abarrio, who spiked a temperature after shipping up to New York from Florida, was scratched.

Doppelganger, owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable and Siena Farm, could now be on target for the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, June 10.

“That seems like a great thought immediately after, but we’ll get him home and see how he is and then talk to the group,” Russell said.

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Doppelganger returned $37.80 on a $2 win bet and improved his career earnings to $442,400. He earned a winner’s circle trip in his first graded stakes appearance in 10 months, his last effort a third in the Grade 3 Affirmed in June at Santa Anita.

After being transferred to Russell’s care, Doppelganger started his 4-year-old campaign with back-to-back allowance wins at Laurel Park before taking the step up in class.

“The fact that were able to run him in the ‘a other than’ and then he comes back in the ‘two other than’ – this horse thinks he’s on top of the world,” Russell said. “He doesn’t know what races he won in when he won at Laurel. He’s just had a lot of confidence and trained well. I’ve been getting feedback in the morning from everyone that he’s getting better and today it showed.” 

Doppelganger improved to 4-1-1 in 10 career starts overall and 3-for-3 with Russell.

“It’s huge. Especially this horse,” said Russell, whose lone previous graded stakes win came with Wondrwherecraigis in the 2021 Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont Park. “This is the first horse that the group sent me last year. We opted to give him some time and let him develop, and it’s nice to see that it pays off. It’s a job well done to the whole team and rewarding to see the patience pay off.”

Toledo, whose career started in 2013, had registered three Grade 3 wins from 2014-20 before his Grade 1 breakthrough.

“It feels awesome. I can’t explain in words,” Toledo said. “It feels great. It’s great to do it here against a tough colony like this one. Brittany gives me a lot of opportunities, so credit to her for getting the horse ready. Thanks to her for bringing me here and keeping me on the horse.”

Toledo has been aboard for all three of Doppelganger’s starts this year.

“I know he wants to go further, but there was a lot of speed in the race and that helped,” Toledo said. “He’s a good horse. He does whatever you want. Whatever you ask him, he’ll do it. He had been running against less company at Laurel. But from the beginning, they thought he could run against nice horses and he proved that he could do it today.

“The couple times I rode him at Laurel, I always kept him in the clear,” he added. “That’s what I tried today. When the turn came, I had to come over and save ground. I didn’t want to keep him all the way to the outside. So I came over, saved ground and went into the clear into the stretch. When he saw the clear in the stretch, he just took off.”

Jockey Andrew Wolfsont said Repo Rocks, who entered on a four-race win streak topped by a last-out score in the Stymie here, was game to the wire.

“I was very impressed with him down the lane,” Wolfsont said. “He had every reason to give up. He was so much the best in his last four starts and today he really had to try. He still gave his effort to be second even though it wasn’t his day.”