Last weekend was all about Aqueduct, and the New York track did not disappoint. The star-studded Saturday card featured the Grade 1 Cigar Mile as well as a pair of 2-year-old stakes that could help shape next year’s racing season. Let’s take a look back at the weekend and see who made our Three Stars of the Week.
1. Sharp Azteca
Going into last weekend, the only thing missing from Sharp Azteca’s resume was a Grade 1 victory. That changed on Saturday when he dominated his rivals to take home the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. After stalking the pace for most of the race, Sharp Azteca swung to the lead without hesitation at the top of the stretch and held off a late challenge from Mind Your Biscuits to win by a resounding 5 1/4 lengths. The jockey change to Javier Castellano seemed to pay off, as he was able to get the horse to relax early on in the race, an ability that he had not shown beforehand. This win will likely springboard Sharp Azteca into the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, which could make for an interesting head-to-head matchup on the front end between he and Gun Runner.
2. Catholic Boy
This was quite the dirt debut! After doing all of his running on turf to start his career, Catholic Boy tried the dirt for the first time in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, and it’s safe to say that he passed the test with flying colors. He was able to stalk the pace while sitting a perfect trip for most of the race, then simply dominated down the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths. His pedigree suggested that he could do well on the dirt, and he proved that assessment to be correct. The win certainly propels him onto the Kentucky Derby trail, as he is now ranked seventh on our Derby Rankings.
3. Wonder Gadot
There was no doubt going into the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes that Wonder Gadot was the class of the field, but there was still some doubt whether dirt was her best surface. Those doubts are now gone after Wonder Gadot stalked the pace early before storming home to a 3 3/4-length victory over Maurer Power. While the final time of the Demoiselle came back much slower than the Remsen, that doesn’t mean that Wonder Gadot isn’t a Kentucky Oaks prospect. The division is wide open right now, and she is currently sixth on our Oaks Rankings.