Exulting makes it look easy in Artie Schiller Stakes at Aqueduct
NYRA Press Office
Godolphin Racing'sExultingmade short work of a compact four-horse field to win Saturday's featured $150,000 Artie Schiller at Aqueduct Racetrack.
A main-track only entrant sent to post as the 1-2 favorite in the off-the-turf mile for 3-year-olds and upward, Exulting lived up to his backing with a comfortable 2 1/2-length score, while earning his first stakes win for jockey Rajiv Maragh and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
The well-bred gelding, a 5-year-old son of Tapit out of the graded stakes winning dam Magical Feeling, Exulting stalked pacesetter Black Tide through splits of 23.59 seconds for the quarter-mile and a half-mile in 47.09, with Profiteer travelling along the rail in third and Backsideofthemoon content to trail the field.
Maragh urged Exulting into action into the turn and easily assumed command from Black Tide with only Backsideofthemoon, being asked for his best by Manny Franco, remaining a concern through three-quarters in 1:12.31. Exulting opened up a three-length lead at the top of the lane and was ridden out a confident winner in front of the rallying Backsideofthemoon. Black Tide completed the trifecta in front of Profiteer. Exulting, who returned $3.10 on a $2 win bet, covered the mile in 1:37.97 over a good Aqueduct main track.
The trip, from the outside post, went according to plan for Maragh.
"Everything went smooth," Maragh said. "We got a great post on the outside, which we wanted to get into a good rhythm. Down the backstretch, I was just trying to be a good passenger and get him into a good flow, which he did. He just traveled well all the way.
"Since the first time I rode him, he's shown a lot of talent," continued Maragh. "We've had some good races with him, he's always shown his talent. To make the next step to a stakes is always tough, but he's a horse who seems to be improving and hopefully he keeps on moving up."
McLaughlin had expected to be in contention for a victory in the Artie Schiller with Qurbaan, listed as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, before recent inclement weather forced the race off the turf and the subsequent scratch.
"It's too bad our other horse [Qurbaan] didn't get to run, but it's been a rough year with the rain here in New York. Thankfully, it worked out well for Exulting, and Rajiv [Maragh] rode him great," said McLaughlin. "It's nice to pick up a stakes win with him and he'll most likely stay for the winter. We'll look at the Queens County [December 22] as a good option for him from here."
Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, Exulting banked $86,625 in victory while improving his record to 4-1-1 from 12 career starts.
Qurbaan, Blacktype, Bricks and Mortar, Profroma, Dalarna, Projected, Dr. Edgar and Papa Zulu were scratched.
Earlier on the card, Gastas Stables' Backtohisroots lived up to his moniker in starting the day's stakes action with a 5 ¾-length victory in the $100,000 Atlantic Beach for juveniles in Race 6.
Originally slated for six furlongs on the outer turf, the Atlantic Beach's inaugural running was moved to the harrowed main track labeled good, where Backtohisroots tracked Neverland Rock's early speed with the quarter-mile going in 21.99 seconds.
Under jockey Luis Saez, who earned his 2,000th career win on Friday, Backtohisroots soon commanded the lead, going a half-mile in 46.28. Out of the turn, Backtohisroots switched leads and drifted to the center of the track but generated enough separation where he wasn't seriously challenged in the stretch to hit the wire in 1:13.15.
"We tried to get the lead, but we missed the break a little," Saez said. "I wasn't worried because I rode him once before in Saratoga and I knew he could come from behind. He was very comfortable and when I had a chance to make a move, he took off. He took a little while to switch leads and he was drifting out a little, but he was running well, so I just tried to keep him straight to the wire."
Backtohisroots made his first three starts on dirt, including a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 3 at Saratoga, before the John Terranova trainee made his turf debut with a second-place finish by a half-length to Uncle Benny in the Futurity on October 7 at Belmont Park. Uncle Benny went on to finish second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last weekend at Churchill Downs, while Terranova said his horse will be looking to return to the grass soon.
"He's doing so well right now. We were disappointed it came off the grass, as we tried to get him into the [Breeders' Cup] Juvenile Turf Sprint," Terranova said. "He's really excelled since the Futurity and continued to improve every day. Coming into this race, we were so ready, it was just unfortunate about the weather, but nothing we can do. Luckily, he's got some dirt form and he trains well over it, so he was able to handle this group nicely.
"He wasn't running over his preferred surface because he moved up big time on turf last out, and that's going to be in his future because he's really taken it to the next level now."
The Mark Valeski colt won his first career stakes in increasing his career bankroll to $122,380. Off as the 3-2 second-choice, Backtohisroots, who improved to 2-2-0 in five career starts, returned $5.10 on a $2 win bet.
Colts Neck Stables' Absentee, the 3-5 favorite, outkicked Wallace by 2 ¾ lengths to earn second in his stakes debut for trainer Alan Goldberg.
Honorable Hero and Neverland Rock completed the order of finish. Gins and Tins and Good Good were scratched.