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Exclusive Scheme Pounces in Hettinger

Exclusive Scheme earned her second New York-bred stakes victory of the year in the second running of the $100,000 John Hettinger Stakes Sunday afternoon at Belmont Park.

 

The 4-year-old Saarland filly sat a stalking trip in the 1 1/8-mile event behind longshot Luna Charm, who ran modest opening fractions of :24.50 and :49.79. Nearing the three-eighths pole, jockey Ramon Dominguez gave Exclusive Scheme her cue and the pair took command, holding off late charges from Frivolous Buck, Akilina, and You Go West Girl to win by a length.

 

“We wanted to put her where she was comfortable,” said Dominguez. “I knew [Luna Charm, No. 7] was pretty speedy, so we sat in second, where we were comfortable. She was well-reserved, and I thought she was going to give me a great kick. She finished up pretty nice.”

 

The third betting choice at 6-1 in the field of seven fillies and mares, Exclusive Scheme returned $14.60 for a $2 wager. Her final time was 1:49.14 over the firm inner turf.

 

“She really has been training very well,” said Bill Badgett, who trains the filly for Paris Hill Thoroughbreds. “It was good handicapping on our part to pick this spot. We’ll look next to the Ticonderoga [New York Showcase Day, October 23, Belmont Park].”

 

Winner of the William B. Fasig at Saratoga Race Course on July 31, Exclusive Scheme extended her record to 8-3-2 from 25 starts and her bankroll to $269,080 with the Hettinger winner’s purse of $60,000.

 

Frivolous Buck, sent off at 13-1 in her first stakes appearance, was tenacious as she held on for second, a neck in front of Akilina.

 

“She ran well up at Saratoga, and we were fortunate to get Javier [Castellano] to ride her again,” said George Weaver, trainer of Frivolous Buck. “Sometimes you have to take a chance, and I thought she performed very well.”

 

You Go West Girl, winner of last year’s Hettinger and the 4-5 favorite, closed on the outside to finish fourth, three-quarters of a length behind Akilina, after spotting the field 10 lengths in the early going.

 

Completing the order of finish were Paraiba, Great Gracie Dane, and Luna Charm.

 

 

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