SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – After two stakes placings at long odds this meet, Barbara Hutnyk’s Adventist made his third time the charm when coming from far off the pace to win Saturday’s $100,000 Bernardini at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Uriah St. Lewis, Adventist arrived at the 1 5/16-mile event for older horses off a narrow second to Stan the Man in the Queens County on December 21 and, most recently, a closing third beaten 5 lengths to dominant New York-bred Mr. Buff.
Piloted by John Bisono from post 4, the veteran Any Given Saturday bay broke last of the seven runners as Ekhtibaar took command as they passed the stands for the first time with the opening 1/4-mile in 24.80 seconds as Leitone was one length back in second.
Around the far turn, Ekhitbaar began to give way leaving Leitone and Blugrascat’s Smile in front. Meanwhile, Bisono was giving Adventist his cue as he began inching his way closer to the front.
As the field approached the top of the stretch, Adventist improved position and began gobbling up ground as Leitone and Blugrascat’s Smile continued to duke it out on the front end. In the final eighth of a mile, Adventist, maintaining his five-wide position, charged his way to the front to win by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 2:16.22 on the main track rated fast. Blugrascat’s Smile was 4 lengths to the better of Ekhtibaar, who re-rallied to get third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Dynamax Prime, Leitone, Heavy Roller and Armament. Patagonia and Backsideofthemoon were scratched.
Adventist, who returned $6.20 as the 2/1 mutuel favorite, notched a second career stakes win after springing a 50/1 upset in the Greenwood Cup (G3) in October at Parx Racing. During his 3-year-old campaign, he finished third in the Wood Memorial (G1) at the Big A when conditioned by former trainer Leah Gyarmati.
Bisono said he kept his mount far off the pace by design.
“I just let him stay back there where he’s comfortable. That’s his style of running,” Bisono said. “By the 3/8 pole, he started getting into the race and he really kicked in down the lane. I was very comfortable. He was a lot closer at this longer distance and I knew they’d have to run hard to keep up with him down the lane.”
St. Lewis said he was happy with the effort and believes that the horse relishes extra distance.
“He just needed to get the perfect setup and he did today,” St. Lewis said. “When I saw the third-quarter go as fast as they did, I knew he was getting the setup we were looking for. I just told John to ride his race. We know he’s a horse that likes to come from behind. He’s a horse that always tries and he wants distance. The longer they go the better for him.”
The victory enhanced Adventist’s career earnings to $659,715 after cashing a check for $55,000. Bred in Kentucky by Monticule, Adventist is out of the Deputy Minister broodmare Sharp Minister.
Adventist returned $6.40 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.90 to show. Blugrascat’s Smile brought back $8.70 to place and $5.60 to show, while Ekhtibaar paid $7.60 to show.