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Withgreatpleasure Cuts the Corner in Ruffian

Withgreatpleasure had run in 12 straight stakes races with only one victory before dropping down to a $35,000 handicap on March 19 at Charles Town and winning by 2 ½ lengths.


The 5-year-old mare must have built some confidence in West Virginia because she returned Saturday in superb form and upset the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.


Under a perfectly timed, opportunistic rail ride by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Withgreatpleasure advanced steadily along the rail from her inside post position and surged to the lead on the far turn as tiring frontrunner Funnys Approval drifted wide. Under strong urging, Withgreatpleasure held off the late charge of favorite My Wandy’s Girl to win by three-quarters of a length.


The daughter of Hold that Tiger ran the one-turn mile in 1:36.52 to score at 14-1, paying $30.60 for a $2 win bet. Twice the Lady finished 2 ½ lengths back in third followed by Centrique, Funnys Approval and Onepointthreekarats.


“She was my first stakes winner; now she’s my first graded stakes winner,” said trainer David Nunn. “She’s been second in a Grade 2, third in a Grade 2; she’s done everything. She was due to finally get a trip and win. I take nothing away from the other jocks, they have done a wonderful job, but Johnny V knows Aqueduct, and that made a difference today.”


Withgreatpleasure, Funnys Approval, My Wandy’s Girls and Onepointhreekarats all had contested the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap on February 16 at Laurel Park, with Funnys Approval scoring a front-running victory that day over a muddy track. Funnys Approval attempted the same tactics today, clearing off by two lengths and running a quarter-mile in 22.79 seconds and a half in 45.81.


Velazquez, however, was watching carefully from behind.


“[Funnys Approval] was in the three path the whole way,” Velazquez said. “I just waited and waited. Past the three-eighths pole, it was my chance to get there. I got there maybe ea little too soon, but I got there, anyway. I had to take the chance when it was open.”


My Wandy’s Girl ran four wide on the backstretch and swung wide in the lane and couldn’t catch the winner.


The victory was the seventh in Withgreatpleasure’s 31-race career and brought her bankroll to $592,850 for owner-breeder David Blethen.




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