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Better Lucky and Good

 

Trailing by more than a dozen lengths after a half-mile, Better Lucky came flying down the stretch to nip fellow Grade 1 winner Grace Hall at the wire and win the $100,000 Shine Again by a head on Monday at Saratoga Race Course.

 

Trained by Tom Albertrani for Godolphin Racing, Better Lucky ran seven furlongs in 1:22.56 on a fast main track and returned $12.20 for a $2 win bet, pushing her career earnings to $993,950 in 17 lifetime starts.

 

Grace Hall finished second, a half-length in front of 2011 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly and multiple Grade 1 winner My Miss Aurelia, making her first start in more than 16 months. Rounding out the field was pace-setting Bridgehampton, another length back.

 

Jockey Javier Castellano had Better Lucky reserved in the early going behind rivals, as Bridgehampton zipped through a quarter-mile in 22.74 seconds and a half in 44.62. Bridgehampton was still in front after going 1:08.94 for six furlongs when the field began to converge.

 

"I was getting a little bit concerned until I saw the 44 and change pop up there, and then I thought she could close; it would just be a matter of getting there in time," said Albertrani. "When they were turning for home I could see she was getting a little closer, then at the eighth pole I knew she was going to get up there. It worked out perfectly."

 

Castellano swung Better Lucky outside and they gained steadily down the stretch to catch Grace Hall for her third career win on dirt. Her last victory came in the Grade 1 First Lady over the Keeneland turf course last October.

 

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"I know she's got a good kick, but I just had to find the best place to use it," Castellano said. "I found the best place and I won the way the race unfolded. [There were] a lot of speed horses in the race. They went pretty quick, but it paid off in the long term."

It was a hard-luck loss for Grace Hall, who raced in tight and bumped with My Miss Aurelia near the eighth pole and has now finished second in all three 2014 starts.

"I think she was the best horse in the race," Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said. "She was bothered at the three-sixteenths pole and had to come out of there and go around, and she had to alter course at the eighth pole."

 

My Miss Aurelia, unraced since finishing third in the Grade 3 Azeri in March 2013, was making her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher.

 

"I thought she ran very well," Pletcher said. "She hadn't run in a long time, and she fought hard and just got a little tired in the last hundred yards. I think she showed a lot of try."  


 

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