Aruna employed a bold rush inside the
three-eighths pole to sweep to the lead, then held sway in the stretch to win Belmont
Park’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for turf fillies and mares on
Looking to regain winning form, Aruna settled in fourth as Aqsaam
opened a double-digit lead through fractions of 47.34 and 1:13.22. When the
leader started to come back to the field, Ramon Dominguez gave Aruna her cue,
and she blew past the weary pacesetter and was never seriously threatened in
the stretch by Hit It Rich, who gave vain chase in second.
“There was a spot by the three-eighths pole where I had to make a
decision; I was very happy with where I was on the rail and she was pretty
handy, but realistically, the horse in front of me was starting to slow down,
and there was the filly outside me,” said Dominguez. “I had to
really take a shot and go through at that moment, which I did. I was a little
concerned it would compromise my filly, but she kept on coming for me, so I was
very happy with her.”
Aruna, the 2-1 favorite, paid $6.10 for a $2 win wager and completed 1
3/8 miles over “good” turf in 2:15.47.
Bay was the second 2012
start for Aruna, a Grade 1 winner who entered the race off a last-of-six
performance in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on April 14 at Keeneland. She concluded
her 2011 campaign with a fifth, beaten one length, in the Grade 1
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in November.
“In her last two races we just tried taking her out of it too
much in the Breeders’ Cup and Jenny Wiley,” said winning trainer H.
Graham Motion. “She’s a much more settled filly this year; we
don’t have to worry about [getting her to relax]. She’s every bit
as good as she was last year – she’s just had two unlucky
Motion said Aruna’s next start most likely will come on July 28
in Saratoga Race Course’s Grade 1 Diana – in which she was second
last year – or on August 18 in Arlington
Park’s Grade 1
Aruna, a 5-year-old Flaxman Stables homebred, is 7-3-1 in 15 starts and
has earned $945,379. The Sheepshead
Bay victory was worth
$120,000 to her connections.
Principal Role received show honors, followed home by Aqsaam, Distorted
Legacy, Woodford Belle, and Hasay. Mystical Star was third under the finish
line but disqualified for prematurely breaking through the starting gate.
Magical Cat, who was held in the gate by an assistant starter, was declared a