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OZONE PARK, NY – Kendrick Carmouche captured his first New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) riding title by guiding Laobanonaprayer to a convincing victory in Sunday’s $250,000 NYSSS Fifth Avenue, a 7-furlong sprint for eligible New York-sired juvenile fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Carmouche entered the day with 21 wins, four more than second-place Jose Lezcano and clinched the title in style with an 8-length score aboard Laobanonaprayer, who is owned and trained by Daniel Velazquez.
“I got the best post position,” said Carmouche. “The best thing to do was to just watch everything go on to the inside of me and go from there. Everything set up perfect. I just had to be patient and let my horse run on. I’m just very happy for my buddy Danny Velazquez and his family and his team. We all came together to win another race. It’s wonderful when you are in the winner’s circle.”
Laobanonaprayer assumed a stalking position in fourth as Flower’s Fortune set a contested opening 1/4-mile of 23.95 seconds under pressure from U Should B Dancing and the rail-surging Jill’s a Hot Mess.
Jill’s a Hot Mess wrestled the lead away heading into the turn through a 1/2-mile in 47.30 as Carmouche asked Laobanonaprayer to shift into gear racing outside of rivals. Moving comfortably throughout, Laobanonaprayer kicked clear of Jill’s a Hot Mess down the lane and sprinted home in 1:24.95 on the fast main track.
Jill’s a Hot Mess stayed on strong to complete the exacta by 3 1/2 lengths over Shanes Pretty Lady.
Rounding out the order of finish were Pop the Bubbly, Pazzion, Ms Wicked, Gray Destiny, Vive La Liberty, Flower’s Fortune, Athena Dancer, and U Should B Dancing. Tangerine Dream was scratched.
Following a pair of on-the-board efforts at Delaware Park to start her career, Velazquez added blinkers and the services of Carmouche for the filly’s 5 1/2-length maiden win in the Maid of the Mist on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park.
Velazquez said he was confident of a strong effort despite a slight cutback in distance from her last out 1-mile win over state-breds.
“I knew we came prepared,” said Velazquez. “I was questioning the distance but I knew she could handle it. I think she can actually go a mile and 1/8. I’m really looking forward to testing her against open company. That’s where we’ll really know where she is. It’s fun to compete in these stakes, but we got to test her against open company.”
Bred in the Empire State by Christina Deronda, Laobanonaprayer banked $137,500 in victory while improving her record to 4-2-1-1. A bay daughter of Laoban, out of the Raffie’s Majesty mare Raffie’s Chance, Laobanonaprayer returned $4 on a $2 win bet.
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