SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – After tracking the early lead closely, Performer struck the lead and evaded a late-running Tax to win Saturday’s $200,000 Discovery Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.
Breaking cleanly from post 6 under Joel Rosario as the 2/1 second choice, Performer held a narrow lead into the clubhouse turn before Carlos L. raced past him on his outside by the top of the back stretch. Carlos L. then posted opening fractions of :23.66, :47.86, and 1:12.34 for the opening 6 furlongs.
Tipped off the rail heading into the far turn, Performer ranged up and retook the lead at the 3/8 pole and held a narrow lead, but the 6/5 favorite Tax was moving briskly behind him. At the top of the stretch, the two set down for a stretch battle that quickly left everyone else behind.
Inside the 1/16 pole, Performer re-rallied and pulled away late, refusing to let Tax get by. The Shug McGaughey trainee crossed 1 1/4 lengths ahead in a final time of 1:50.36 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.
“He broke very good,” Rosario said. “I just let him get his spot and see where I was. I was on the lead for a little bit. The horse on the outside was pulling to go, so I let him go and followed him. He was there for me. The more I got into him, he was there. Any time a horse came to him, he was there and responded. He was real game. He wouldn’t let the horse go by. That was pretty good.”
Grumps Little Tots was 9 1/4 lengths behind Tax in third, just heading En Wye Cee for that position at the wire. Carlos L., Mubarmaj, and Air Attack completed the order of finish. Majid was scratched.
Performer’s win was his fourth straight, all in 2019, to improve his career mark to 5-4-0-1. The 3-year-old son of Speightstown has now earned $257,000 for co-owners Phipps Stable (who also bred him) and Claiborne Farm.
“He’s had a really good 3-year-old year; ran four times and won four times,” McGaughey said. “It was the first time around two turns and we moved him up a little bit in class. He beat a very nice horse who ran second and I’m very pleased he got it done today around two turns. He trained really, really well coming into it and I thought it was a really good race and performance for him. Joel gave him a good ride and he was in perfect position all the way around. For him to have something left at the end to battle and pull away showed his ability.”
Performer returned $ to win, $ to place, and $ to show. Place brought back $ to place and $ to show, while Show paid $ to show.