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Hit It Rich Strikes Paydirt in Long Island

Hit It Rich earned her first graded stakes victory Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack, taking command with a decisive move at the head of the stretch and going on to a 1 ½-length victory in the 55th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Long Island Handicap.

Patiently handled by Javier Castellano, the 4-year-old gray daughter of Smart Strike was content to gallop alongside pacesetter Unbridled Essence as she led the field of eight fillies and mares through fractions of 24.38, 49.39, 1:15.32 and 1:41.12 over a turf course rated "firm." Grabbing the lead on the turn, Hit It Rich quickly opened up on her seven rivals and rolled under the wire in 2:30.39 for the 1 ½ miles.

Mekong Melody, winner of the 2010 Long Island, finished second, 1 ¾ lengths clear of the late-running Musical Rain.

"It looked like there wasn't much speed at all, but [Unbridled Essence] rushed and wanted to dictate the pace," said Castellano, aboard the Stuart Janney, III-owned filly for the first time. "I let her dictate the pace, and I just kept tracking behind the speed. The pace was very slow and my filly loved to gallop right next to the lead. It was wonderful - when I asked her, she focused and took off."

The victory was the third in four starts for Hit It Rich, who entered the Long Island off a 3 ¾-length allowance victory at Keeneland Race Course in October and won an optional claimer at Saratoga Race Course in July. Overall, she is 5-1-2 from 11 starts and with the winner's purse of $90,000 has now earned $243,310 for her owner and breeder.

"I think this is a pretty big move forward to go from a three-other-than into something like this," said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. "We've asked her to do quite a bit these past couple of months. We'll give her a little break and hopefully next summer she'll be the kind of filly that can maybe participate in some of the bigger races."

Sent off at 4-1, Hit It Rich returned $10.80 for a $2 win bet.

Completing the order of finish behind Musical Rain were Hasay, favored Emerald Beech, Akris Queen, Unbridled Essence, and Little Often Anni.

 

 

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