Sassy Agnes extends win streak in Key Cents at Aqueduct

NYRA Press Office
November 23, 2018 05:27pm
Sassy Agnes_Key Cents 2018_615x400
Photo: Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
Beach Haven Thoroughbreds' Sassy Agnes completed an all-stakes hat trick with a dominant front-running performance to capture Friday's $100,000 Key Cents at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Linda Rice, the chestnut daughter of Central Banker arrived at the six-furlong sprint for New York-bred juvenile fillies from fall victories upstate in the Lady Finger and Shesastonecoldfox at Finger Lakes. 

Sent to post at odds of 5-1 for her Aqueduct debut, Sassy Agnes blasted out of the gate under Jose Ortiz and made all the running, while marking off swift splits of 21.98 seconds for the quarter-mile and a half-mile in 45.39 under pressure from My Best Friend, with Take Me to Hardoon tracking from third.
Espresso Shot, last of 12 after breaking outward from post 6 under Eric Cancel, made up significant ground along the rail to be fourth at the top of the lane as Sassy Agnes, with a 2 ½-length advantage, continued her powerful pacesetting performance.
Under steady urging from Ortiz, Sassy Agnes put away My Best Friend and had enough in reserve to turn back a rail-running Take Me to Hardoon and the outside rallying Espresso Shot who arrived in the final stride to complete the exacta. Sassy Agnes, a 1 1/4 length winner, paid $13.60 to win while stopping the clock in 1:11.79.
Rice said she was pleased with the strong pace presence demonstrated by Sassy Agnes to win the Key Cents.
"She's really coming into her own. I kept her at Finger Lakes because I wanted to keep going three-quarters (of a mile) with her. I said let's bring her down for this race, and then maybe as a 3-year-old, she can compete against open company. She's very fast," said Rice.
Ortiz, aboard Sassy Agnes for the first time, said he was impressed by the filly's staying power after setting sharp fractions.
"She's a really nice filly," Ortiz said. "Today was the first time I've been on her and she showed me that she has good form and is very classy. She broke well and went plenty fast for this type of track and then kept going, which was impressive. She looks like a really nice New York-bred."
My Best Friend stayed on for fourth followed by Sadie Lady, Elegant Zip, Kept True, Surge of Pride, Maiden Beauty, Wait a Minute, Collegeville Girl and She's So Shea D. Saloon Girl was scratched.
Sassy Agnes, bred by Klaravich Stables, banked $55,000 in victory while improving her record to 3-1-0 from five starts.

In Race 7, Red Oak Stable's Bal Harbour earned his first stakes win since December of 2017 with a powerful performance in capturing the $150,000 Gio Ponti for 3-year-olds.

Breaking alertly from post 3 as the 7-2 second-choice with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard, Bal Harbour went to the lead from the field of three, setting fractions of 24.48 seconds for the opening quarter-mile with the half in 48.12.

Uncontested turning for home, Bal Harbour completed three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.74. Stablemate Life's a Parlay, the 1-9 mutuel favorite, made a run toward the leader in the late stages, but Bal Harbour was unbothered in securing the victory by 2 1/4 lengths.

Moved from off the outer turf, he completed the one-mile distance on a fast main track in a final time of 1:37.21.

"He's the kind of horse that usually comes from behind, but sometimes it happens like that when there's only three horses," said Castellano. "He broke on top and I didn't want to take anything away from him, so I used my own judgment to put him on the lead and try to slow down the pace. He finished really well today. I didn't expect it to be that way, but sometimes you have to play with how they break."

Returning $9.90 for a $2 win wager, the First Samurai gelding picked up his second consecutive victory following an optional-claiming win on October 21 at Keeneland. Notching his first stakes win since the 2017 Smooth Air at Gulfstream Park, the victory boosted his career bankroll to $282,755.

"These are always tricky races," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "From a tactical standpoint, I felt like Irad [Ortiz, Jr., aboard Roaming Union] would probably be on the lead with Life's a Parlay laying second, but Bal Harbour broke so sharply he got the jump on them a little bit and Javier was able to control things from there.

"It seems like the freshening and castrating have made a big difference. His two starts since then have been very impressive. I thought today's race, even though it was a short field and the track has been pretty slow, for them to run 1:37.1 off of pretty moderate fractions was a strong effort."

Following Life's a Parlay was Roaming Union. 

Prioritize, Zap Daddy, Medal of Honour, Breaking the Rules, Therapist, Rose's Vision and Mr Ritz were scratched.


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