Performer out-duels Tax to win Aqueduct's Discovery Stakes

November 30, 2019 03:28pm

Just as Code of Honor went on the shelf for the offseason, trainer Shug McGaughey on Saturday sent out another 3-year-old who figures to factor next season in New York’s top races for older horses.

Performer, by Speightstown, fended off Tax to win Aqueduct’s Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery in his stakes debut.

Before Saturday, the Phipps Stable and Claiborne Farm had won three straight in a slow climb up the class ladder since breaking his maiden on June 29.

"He's had a really good 3-year-old year -- ran four times and won four times," McGaughey said. "It was the first time around two-turns and we moved him up a little bit in class. He beat a very nice horse who ran second, and I'm very pleased he got it done today around two turns."

Performer led into the first turn under jockey Joel Rosario, then took back as Carlos L set the half-mile pace up the back stretch in 47.86 seconds. Rolling up to Carlos L’s outside, Performer took the lead midway through the far turn, and Tax began splitting horses from fifth to set up a stretch duel between the top betting choices.

Inside of Tax, the Jim Dandy (G2) winner making his first start since the Travers Stakes (G1), Performer continued on to finish 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.36. After the winner and runner-up separated by 1 /4 lengths, it was well back to Grumps Little Tots, who was third in a field of seven.

"He was there for me," Rosario said of Performer. "The more I got into him, he was there. Any time a horse came to him, he was there and responded. He was real game. He wouldn't let (Tax) go by. That was pretty good."

"It was a perfect trip," added Irad Oriz Jr., who rode Tax. "I don't have any excuses. We went all the way to the wire. He never gave up. It was a good race. That's a nice horse [Performer], too. We came off a little layoff. He should be all right this year."

Tax was away as the 6-5 favorite while Performer, off at 2-1, returned $6.40 to win.

"He trained really, really well coming into it and I thought it was a really good race and performance for him," McGaughey said. "Joel gave him a good ride and he was in perfect position all the way around. For him to have something left at the end to battle and pull away showed his ability."


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