Race of the Week 2017

Understatement Tops Stymie

To say that Understatement has performed well over Aqueduct Racetrack’s inner track would be something of a, well, understatement.


The 5-year-old Distorted Humor horse is 3-for-3 on in the inner, including a front-running, 4½-length victory in the Evening Attire in his most recent start on January 16.


Sunday afternoon, he looks to make it 4-for-4 when he takes on seven others as the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the 55th running of the $65,000 Stymie at 1 1/8th miles.

Owned by Paul Pompa, Jr. and trained by Todd Pletcher, Understatement won a pair of optional claimers over the inner track last winter before finishing seventh to champion sprinter Kodiak Kowboy in the Grade 1 Carter over the main track. After summering in New Jersey, Understatement came off a four-month freshening to finish second by a neck to Ah Day at Laurel in the final race of his 4-year-old campaign.


“He’s been training exceptionally well,” said Pletcher’s assistant, Jonathan Thomas. “We’re excited about running him in the race.”


Understatement, who drew post No. 6 with jockey David Cohen, is one of three Pletcher-trained horses in the Stymie, which was rescheduled from last week. Pletcher also sends out Nite Light, who carries high weight of 123 pounds including Ramon Dominguez, and Atoned, with Mike Luzzi up.


Nite Light, who drew post No. 4 and who was 3-1 on the morning line, was the beaten favorite in a pair of marathons over the inner track, finishing second in the December 31 Gallant Fox and second again in the January 31 Coyote Lakes. Atoned, 6-1 on the morning line from post No. 5, comes into the race off a third-place finish in the John Campbell handicap at Laurel Park on February 15.


Making his 2010 debut in the Stymie is Reflect Times, most recently fourth in the 1 5/8th mile Gallant Fox on December 31.  In his first two starts for new trainer Paolo Lobo, the Japanese-bred son of French Deputy finished sixth on the main track and then won an optional claimer going a mile, 70 yards on the inner.


Reflect Times, 12-1 on the morning line, will carry 117 pounds, including jockey Rosie Napravnik, as he breaks from post No. 2.


Both the well-seasoned More Than a Reason and Seniors Pride, both 15-1 on the morning line, are coming into the Stymie off victories in optional claimers over the inner track.

Last year, More Than a Reason hit the board in 20 of his 24 starts, winning two, and this year is 1-0-1 from three starts, including the February 7 win. He will be ridden by Angel Serpa and break from post No. 8 under 119 pounds.


Seniors Pride was a 5 ¼ length winner going a mile, 70 yards, on January 13, which ran his record to 2-0-2 from seven starts since leaving Florida last spring. Trained by Michael Tannuzzo, he will leave from the No. 7 post under Channing Hill and 117 pounds.


Rounding out the field are National Pride, 5-1, and Giant Chieftan, 10-1.


National Pride started the year with a front-running victory in an optional claimer here on January 6, then stumbled at the break and lost jockey Richard Migliore during More Than a Reason's win on February 7. The Darley gelding will be reunited with Migliore as he breaks from the rail under 119 pounds.


Giant Chieftan, third in the Coyote Lakes and the Gallant Fox, will be ridden by Fernando Jara from post No. 3.


The field for the $65,000 Stymie:




National Pride (KY)

R Migliore


K P McLaughlin



Reflect Times (JPN)

A R Napravnik


P H Lobo



Giant Chieftan (KY)

F Jara


B R Brown



Nite Light (KY)

R A Dominguez


T A Pletcher



Atoned (FL)

M J Luzzi


T A Pletcher



Understatement (KY)

D Cohen


T A Pletcher



Seniors Pride (FL)

C Hill


M Tannuzzo



More Than a Reason (KY)

A Serpa


R Persaud






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