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SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Saguaro Row continued her successful stint at Aqueduct Racetrack, relishing a cutback in distance with a patient trip before a strong closing kick to win the 99th running of the $100,000 Interborough for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up on a special Monday holiday card at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Saguaro Row, owned by Newtown Anner Stud Farm and breeder Mark Breen, won the Pumpkin Pie at the Interborough’s distance of seven furlongs on November 9 and ran a competitive second to Spiced Perfection in the one-mile Grade 3 Go for Wand on December 7.
Trainer Michael Stidham said before the race that the Union Rags mare should appreciate the shorter distance. Saguaro Row benefited from the sprint – and a patient ride by jockey Jose Lezcano – staying near the rail in fifth position as Our Circle of Love led the seven-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.99 seconds on the main track labeled good.
Lezcano, who notched four wins on the day, urged Saguaro Row up as the half-mile went in 47.50. Nearing the turn, Lezcano tipped his charge outside, where Saguaro Row gained command at the top of the stretch and charged home a 2 ¾-length winner over Abounding Joy and jockey Junior Alvarado, stopping the clock in 1:25.13.
Off as the 8-5 favorite, Saguaro Row returned $5.50 on a $2 win wager while improving her career bankroll to $319,104.
“The assistant told me before the race not to rush out of the gate and just to sit back and stalk from off the pace,” Lezcano said. “I broke running and let her sit in fourth [position]. At the quarter-pole, when I asked her, she came swinging out and did it easy.”
Lezcano has registered six stakes wins through the first 22 days of Aqueduct’s winter meet.
“It’s been a very good meet,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities from all the trainers and owners. They’re reach good horses and I’m thankful.”
Since Stidham took over the training duties for her 4-year-old campaign, Saguaro Row has finished first or second in 6-of-9 starts and could now target the Grade 3, $250,000 Barbara Fritchie on February 15 at Laurel Park.
“She’s really found a home up there,” Stidham said of Aqueduct. “When those horses like that course, I’ve found that you’re smart to keep running on a track that a horse likes. Not every horse likes the winter track up there, but she seems to. She’s a nice filly and she showed it today.”
WinStar Stablemates Racing’s Abounding Joy, making her first start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and first race since May, finished 6 ¾-lengths clear of Honor Way to complete the exacta.
“I thought she ran pretty well,” Alvarado said. “We thought she might need that race, but she had been working well. She’s a big filly and probably wasn’t 100 percent but enough to get a good race under her. She showed a good effort off the layoff. She should benefit from this race and for going longer it will help her. This distance should be fine, but the longer she goes, the better she’ll do.”
Our Circle of Love, Slimey, New Year’s Wish and Champagne Bliss completed the order of finish. Piedi Bianchi was scratched.
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