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Maragh Steals New York Aboard Giants Play

Giants Play and Rajiv Maragh goes gate to wire in the 68th Running of the Grade 2 New York Stakes forfillies and mares 3 year old & up, 1 1/4 mile on the inner turf. Trainer Christophe Clement. Owner Newsells Park Stud.
Giants Play set a glacial tempo while racing on a relaxed lead and held off a late charge from Zagora to win Belmont Park’s Grade 2, $150,000 New York for fillies and mares on Saturday.


The Newsells Park Stud color-bearer dictated fractions of 52.99 and 1:17.65, opened a 1 ½-length advantage on the far turn, and dug in late to prevail by a diminishing head and earn her first victory in the United States.


Off as the 7-2 third choice, Giants Play returned $9.20 for a $2 win wager and completed 1 ¼ miles over the firm inner turf course in 2:04.76, running the final quarter-mile in 23.33.


The New York was Giants Play’s first start since a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay on May 28, in which she was rank while racing in fifth through the early stages.


“She was a lot more relaxed today and it helped me do my job better,” said winning jockey Rajiv Maragh. I felt like we were going slow, but my main thing was to try to get her to settle. It was the key to getting the best out of her, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t worried about the fractions at all.”


To help the Giants Play relax, winning trainer Christophe Clement placed a net over her nose prior to the New York, and the move appears to have paid off.


“She was rank last time and was fighting too much,” said Clement. “This time we ran her with a net, put her on the lead, and she was a lot more relaxed. She ran a very game race. The net sits on their nostrils and for some, it relaxes them.”


Clement was thrilled to pick up a graded-stakes victory with Giants Play, a 4-year-old daughter of European Horse of the Year Giants Causeway and English champion Playful Act who sold for $850,000 as a yearling. 


“[She’s] very well bred, so to win a graded stakes was a goal this year,” said Clement. “She’s done it. Where do we go next? I don’t have a clue. Let’s enjoy it. It is a big deal. It’s an amazing pedigree, and she’s obviously a very valuable mare.”


Giants Play, bred in Kentucky by Swettenham Stud, is now 2-2-5 from 11 starts and 1-1-2 from 4 races in the United States. Previously, she had won one race from seven starts in England. The New York victory, worth $90,000, lifted her earnings to $155,949.


Hibaayeb, favored in the New York off her triumph in the Sheepshead Bay, finished third, and she was followed home by Freedom Rings, Prize Catch, and La Cloche. Trix in the City was scratched.




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