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Breeders' Cup 2017

Sensational Slam Makes Winning Return

Sensational Slam, returning from a six-month layoff and competing over conventional dirt for the first time, made an inexorable charge to win the $65,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela for owner Bobby Flay on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.


A two-time stakes winner against Ontario-breds over Woodbine’s artificial surface last summer, Sensational Slam trailed in fifth up the backstretch, came under a drive with three furlongs to go, and gradually reeled in the pacesetters to prevail by three-parts of a length under Ramon Dominguez.


“Todd said to me, ‘Ramon, there should be some speed in here, but you’re going to have to ride him and you’re going to have to help him,’” said Dominguez. “Sure enough, that’s exactly the way he was. Pretty much every step of the way I had to encourage him a little bit, but when it was time to pick it up, he was there for me.”


The Capossela was the fourth start overall for Sensational Slam, who was exiting a ninth-place finish in the Grade 3 With Anticipation on turf at Saratoga Race Course on September 3. Prior to that effort, the son of Grand Slam was a narrow winner of the Vandal and Clarendon at Woodbine in July.


“The horse was training well so we were optimistic, but it was the first time we had run him on the [dirt],” said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “This looked like a good place to give it a try. The race unfolded like we thought it would. We thought there’d be plenty of pace, and he’s not a real ambitious horse, especially early on. I just told Ramon to let him settle, and when it came time to give him an encouraging ride.”


Sensational Slam, bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, will now be pointed toward the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore on the Wood Memorial undercard at Aqueduct on April 9, Pletcher added.


Clocked in 1:10.61 for six furlongs, Sensational Slam returned $9.10 for a $2 win wager as the 7-2 third choice and earned $39,000 to push his bankroll to $219,400.


Diski Dance held off Vengeful Wildcat by a nose to finish second, with favored Rift and Another Silver Oak completing the order of finish.


Earlier on the card, Meese Rocks made her return to New York a winning one, leading every step of the $65,000 Broadway for New York-bred fillies and mares.


Fourth in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park on February 19, Meese Rocks was quickest out of the gate in the Broadway, leading the six-furlong dash through opening splits of 23.21 and 46.32 while being pressed by Lots of Stones. Jockey Junior Alvarado took a confident look back turning for home and gave Meese Rocks only hand encouragement in the stretch as she kicked away to a 1 ½-length victory over Big Brownie, who was 2 ½ lengths clear of Lots of Stones.


“I had the only speed in the race, so I figured I’d break and let her go,” said Alvarado. “It was completely easy, all the way. I wanted her to switch leads and as soon as she did, she just took off. I didn’t even hit her, it was just a nice and easy win.”


Winning trainer Eddie Barker was confident Meese Rocks, who entered the Fritchie off three runner-up inner-track stakes efforts, would return to top form in the Broadway.


“It was a total non-effort last time, and I knew it,” said Barker. “She has a lot of heart, this filly, I’ll tell you that. I love her. We’ll probably give her 60-90 days off and bring her back at the end of Belmont or the beginning of Saratoga.”


Meese Rocks, the 4-5 favorite in the Broadway, paid $3.80, improved her record to 9-6-2 from 22 starts, and completed six furlongs in 1:10.62. Owned by Henry, Jamie, and Joseph Terranova and bred by Robert W. Misa, Jr., the 6-year-old daughter of Rock and Roll has earned $443,410, including the $39,000 winner’s share of the Broadway purse.


Laylaben finished fourth, well-clear of Mineralogist, who was making her first start since winning the 2009 Maid of the Mist.





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