Caps, allowed to dictate a modest pace, gave himself, jockey Luis
Contreras, and trainer Rudy Rodriguez their first Grade 1 victories with
a 1 ½-length win over Sahara Sky in the $500,000 Carter Handicap for
sprinters 3-years-old and up on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Photo: Chelsea Durand, NYRA
second biggest long shot in the field at 10-1, Dads Caps raced under
Contreras' tight hold through an opening quarter-mile in 23.68 seconds
while receiving mild pressure on the outside from Strapping Groom and on
the inside from Central Banker. Entering the far turn, Strapping Groom
moved up to challenge Dads Caps and drew within a head of the leader as
they began to sneak away from Central Banker, with Sahara Sky ranging up
three-wide. Dads Caps flicked away Strapping Groom's bid through a half
in 46.56 and took a clear lead into the stretch.
got to work aboard Dads Caps in upper stretch, and the 4-year-old
kicked away to a 3 ½-length lead by the eighth pole. Sahara Sky, the
second choice, attempted to bridge the gap but never seriously
threatened. Clearly Now, the 5-2 favorite, split horses in the stretch
to finish third, 5 ¼ lengths behind the winner.
Dads Caps stopped the timer in 1:22.02 for seven furlongs and returned $23.60 for a $2 win wager.
told me this horse had a lot of speed early and just try to save horse
to the end," said Contreras, whose most lucrative win in his career to
date was a score in the 2011 Queen's Plate, which is restricted to
horses bred in Canada. "He did it so easy and was very strong at the
Dads Caps' Carter triumph, Rodriguez now has a Grade 1 win as a trainer
win to match his victory as a jockey in the 2008 Grade 1 Suburban
Handicap aboard Frost Giant.
Caps, who had broken his maiden in a $60,000 claiming race in February
2013 at Aqueduct, entered the Carter off three straight runner-up
finishes in stakes on the Big A's inner track. He was second by
three-quarters of a length to Candyman E in both the restricted Spooky
Mulder in December and Grade 3 Toboggan in February and last time was
tagged in the final sixteenth a mile when he was runner-up by one length
to Strapping Groom in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 1.
always thought he was a special horse," said Rodriguez. "We ran him for
maiden sixty thousand just to get him eligible for the starter
allowance [races]. We never had the opportunity to run him in a starter
allowance, but he was improving every time we ran him."
to the Carter, Rodriguez's biggest win of his career was a victory with
Vyjack in last year's Grade 3 Gotham, also at Aqueduct.
Caps, a son of 2006 Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap victor Discreet Cat,
was bred in Kentucky by his owner, Vincent Scuderi. He enhanced his
record to 4-3-1 from nine starts and earned $300,000 with his Carter
win. He has earned $512,150 to date.
Rodriguez said he and Scuderi will later deliberate on a return spot for Dads Caps.
have a couple of options," said Rodriguez. "I have to talk to the owner
and take it from there. I'd like to give him a freshening because he's
been running pretty hard in the winter."
Sky will target the Grade 1, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap on
June 7, according to Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry
Hollendorfer. Last year, Sahara Sky won the 2013 Met Mile by a nose over
Cross Traffic after finishing second in the Carter.
didn't get much pace and ran out of ground late. He was giving up eight
pounds to the winner, which definitely matters. He ran a great race and
we're really proud of him. We'll be back for the [Met] Mile."
Golden Ticket, Strapping Groom, Central Banker, and Saturday's Charm completed the order of finish.