Reward passed the first major test of his 4-year-old campaign on Saturday,
coming on late to win the 110th
running of the $250,000 Carter
Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack by a nose for his first Grade 1 victory.
Warrior’s Reward sat last of all
in sixth as Digger led the field through early fractions of 22.85 and
45.92. Still trailing into the far
turn, jockey Julien Leparoux swung the colt five wide at the quarter pole and he
closed steadily to nip Musket Man at the wire.
His final time for seven furlongs
over a fast track was 1:21.62.
“This is a horse that needs to be
relaxed and he relaxed very well today,” said winning jockey Julien Leparoux. “I
moved up on the turn just to get a little position and he just dragged me all
the way to the front. [Musket Man] ran a great race, too. He’s a really
good horse, and so is mine.”
Route runners as 3-year-olds,
both Warrior’s Reward and Musket Man are turning back in distance this year, as
their connections point them to middle-distance races.
“After he couldn’t get the
distance in the Travers, we decided, let’s make him a one-turn horse,
seven-eighths or a mile. Let’s make
him a really good horse,” trainer Ian Wilkes said of Warrior’s Reward. “He wants to be a good horse. When
Julien pulled him to the outside, I knew he had a lot of horse and I know what
this horse can do.”
It was the second win of the year
for Warrior’s Reward, who also captured a seven-furlong allowance at
Park in February. He improved his earnings to $418,442
with today’s victory, returning $9.10 as the third choice in the field of six
and running his record to 4-4-1 from 12 starts.
Favored Munnings was third and
Elusive Warning, Digger, and Driven by Success completed the order of
The Carter was the final leg of a
$500,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick Four that encompassed the Grade 3 Bay Shore
(Eightyfiveinanfifty, $3.20); the Grade 3 Excelsior (Goldsville, $5.10), the
Grade 1 Wood Memorial (Eskendereya, $3.00), and the Carter (Warrior’s Reward,
$9.10). The Pick Four returned $95.00 with a total pool of $681,991.
Wilkes did not name a next start
for the son of Medaglia d’Oro and said he simply wished to enjoy the win, which
he dedicated to the colt’s owner, A. Stevens Miles, Jr., who was unable to
attend Saturday’s race.