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Aqueduct: Cluster of Stars refuses to fold in Correction
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – In midstretch of Saturday’s $100,000 Correction Stakes at Aqueduct, it certainly looked like heavily favored and multiple stakes winner Nicole H was going to run past the talented but inexperienced Cluster of Stars.
And, according to Toby Sheets, the assistant trainer of Cluster of Stars, that would have been okay.
“If she had run second I still would have been ecstatic,” said Sheets, the assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.
Evidently, Cluster of Stars felt differently. Despite being in tight along the rail in the stretch, Cluster of Stars, under Javier Castellano, battled Nicole H through the stretch and beat her by a head in the Correction. Singlet was third followed by Crespano. North Freeway and Ode to Sami scratched.
“She didn’t want to get beat today,” Castellano said.
Cluster of Stars, a New York-bred daughter of Greeley’s Galaxy, is now unbeaten in three starts. She won her debut last February, then was off for 11 months before winning an allowance race on Jan. 13.
“We thought she was special all along. That’s why we gave her the time and did all the right things,” said Sheets, who oversaw the training of Cluster of Stars for Harvey Weinstein’s Turtle Bird Stable. “Being up against a seasoned horse like Nicole H is a different story.”
Cluster of Stars set the pace under Castellano before being confronted by Nicole H. Nicole H, who under Channing Hill was conceding seven pounds to Cluster of Stars, got about a head in front of Cluster of Stars a time or two in the stretch but not when it counted. Trainer Mike Hushion said he felt Hill should have been more aggressive.
“When you come to another horse you got to stay after it and keep going,” Hushion said. “She’s showed that in the past when she’s gotten beat. Even though it looks like she’s supposed to go by, the other horse comes back in the last three or four jumps. You got to [bear] down.”
Cluster of Stars ran six furlongs in 1:09.66 and returned $5.40 as the second choice.
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