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Warrior's Reward Takes Carter

Warrior’s 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 Gulfstream 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 finish. 

 

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. 

 

 

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