OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Under a confident ride from Irad Ortiz, Jr., favored Lewis Bay took over from stablemate Clair de Lune on the turn and went onto an easy 1 ½-length win in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle at Aqueduct Racetrack, earning a trip to the Kentucky Oaks and giving Ortiz his fifth winner of the day.
With the victory, her second in a graded stake, Lewis Bay earned 100 Oaks qualifying points and now has 130 points on the leaderboard, solidifying one of 14 spots for the May 6 Oaks.
Sitting in third behind Clair de Lune, who led the field of six through an opening quarter-mile in 23.93 seconds, with the half going in 48.67 and three-quarters in 1:13.88, Lewis Bay and Ortiz moved up in tandem with Mo d’Amour rounding the turn, poking a head in front straightening for home and drawing clear to the wire.
Lewis Bay’s time for the 1 1/8 miles over a muddy, sealed track was a geared-down 1:52.60.
“I didn’t want to make the lead too early,” said Ortiz. “She passes horses on her own. I looked around and nobody was coming [so I grabbed her late]. If she saw somebody she would go.”
Royal Obsession made up ground late to finish second, with Mo d’Amour holding on for third, another seven lengths back.
Sent off at 3-2, Lewis Bay returned $5.50 for a $2 win and extended her record to 3-2-0 from five starts, including last November’s victory in the Demoiselle and a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park in her 2016 debut. Overall, she has earned $459,600.
“It was her day today,” said trainer Chad Brown of Lewis Bay, who carries the colors of Alpha Delta Stables. “We set this plan up after [she won the Grade 2] Demoiselle to give her one start in the Davona Dale and then the Gazelle; very rarely when you make a plan with horses long term does it work out. With her it has, because she’s such an honest, consistent, sound filly. When you have a horse like that in your barn you can keep a schedule.”
Brown said he anticipated that Lewis Bay, a homebred daughter of Bernardini out of the Summer Squall mare Summer Raven, would have at least two works at Churchill Downs prior to the Oaks.
Completing the order of finish behind Mo d’Amour were Dreams to Reality, Flora Dora, and Clair de Lune. Behrnik’s Bank was scratched.