11/08/2014 4:40PM

Aigue Marine takes Long Island in third try

Chelsea Durand
Aigue Marine slips through on the fence under clever handling by John Velazquez to win the Long Island Handicap.

The third time was the charm in Saturday’s $200,000 Long Island Handicap for Aigue Marine, who, after running third in 2012 and sixth as the favorite in 2013, hugged the rail most of the way under slick handling from John Velazquez to get up in the final strides over favored French import Danza Cavallo.

Aigue Marine broke from the inside post and was always within easy striking range, as Invading Humor showed the way through an initial six furlongs in 1:18 seconds over the yielding turf.

Danza Cavallo got first run on the outside to take the lead passing the midstretch marker, but Aigue Marine finished resolutely along the fence and caught the 8-5 favorite nearing the wire to win by a neck.

“There were only two speed horses, and I [thought I’d] come out of there and get it the way I wanted, try to sit and wait, and that’s the way it worked out,” said Velazquez. “I had to bide my time inside the quarter pole, but at the three-sixteenth pole she came running. I wanted to make sure I had room. Once I cleared the horse inside [me] and I pulled her out, she was running really good, and I said ‘I’m going to get there.’”

Aigue Marine ($15.20), the only North American graded stakes winner in the field of 12 after taking this year’s Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial, carried second high weight of 118 pounds, and ran the mile and one-half in 2:35.37 seconds to take the last graded stakes of the New York season for fillies and mares. She was the third Long Island winner for Christophe Clement, who also sent out third-place finisher Maximova (24-1) and fifth-place finisher Tabreed, who was second in last year’s renewal.

“We’ve tried to win the Long Island with her for a few years; it’s wonderful she’s done it this year,” said Clement. “She’s going to go back to Europe and become a broodmare now. The trip [Velazquez] gave her was between superb and unbelievable; that’s what you call saving ground.”

The 3-year-old Danza Cavallo was clearly second best in her United States debut for Chad Brown. She was meeting older fillies and mares for the first time.

Viva Rafaela, the top weight at 119 pounds and the expected pacesetter, wound up tenth as the 7-2 second choice.