ELMONT, NY – Ron Paolucci Racing’s speedy Heavenhasmynikki took control early and never relinquished, taking the field gate to wire to earn her first career graded score in Saturday’s $200,000 Vagrancy Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 2 under Kendrick Carmouche at 4/1 odds, Heavenhasmynikki quickly established herself up front and led the 6/5 favorite Separationofpowers by a length down the backside. Running comfortably through opening fractions of :22.58 and :45.21, Carmouche waited to ask Heavenhasmynikki until she had approximately 1 1/2 furlongs to go, and she responded sharply.
Dispatching the bettors’ choice at the top of the stretch, Heavenhasmynikki initially looked home free, but Pacific Gale was storming home down the middle of the lane after riding near the rear early. The pacesetter dug deep and proved too tough at the end, though, necking out her foe to win the 6 1/2-furlong sprint over the fast main track in a final time of 1:14.99.
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“She broke very sharp,” Carmouche said. “She did everything perfect. She held onto the race, I’m just glad I was a part of the team. The horse was running so easy and smooth. All you got to do is just get her to finish up and she did that. We held on, perfect story.”
Strong in defeat, Pacific Gale finished 2 1/4 lengths clear of a fading Separationofpowers, who was making her first start since finishing fourth in the Cotillion Stakes (G1) last September. Dawn the Destroyer headed Holiday Disguise for fourth to complete the order of finish.
Heavenhasmynikki’s win improved her overall record to 14-7-0-2 with $374,980 earned. The 4-year-old Ohio-bred daughter of Majestic Warrior won a pair of stakes races in her home state last year but gave trainer Bob Hess, Jr., his first-ever stakes win at Belmont Park.
“The wire came up in time,” said Hess, Jr. “It was a maiden stakes win for me at Belmont. I’ve won stakes races at Aqueduct, but never here before. To win with Ron Paolucci makes it extra special. I felt she had a pace advantage here. I felt we needed every bit of that. She’s a nice filly. I think she’s on the improve and hopefully we can run her in New York the rest of the year.”
Heavenhasmynikki returned $10.40 to win, $5.20 to place, and $3.50 to show. Pacific Gale brought back $4.10 to place and $2.60 to show, while Separationofpowers paid $2.10 to show.