11/23/2013 5:05PM

Aqueduct: Comandante takes Thunder Rumble Stakes

NYRA photo
Comandante and jockey Javier Castellano win the Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Stakes on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Those looking to get an early jump on handicapping Wednesday’s card at Aqueduct can scratch Comandante from the seventh race.

After winning Saturday’s $125,000 Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct by 1 1/2 lengths, Comandante no longer is eligible for Wednesday’s $69,000 second-level allowance race restricted to New York-breds.

Trainer Todd Pletcher had entered Comandante in Wednesday’s allowance in case he and owner Kirk Wycoff felt the Thunder Rumble was too difficult a spot. But with four scratches, including those of Smooth Bert and Ultimate Empire, they decided to stay in the nine-horse Thunder Rumble.

Under Javier Castellano, Comandante broke alertly from post 6 and took up a stalking position outside of Chapman and Readthebyline, who dueled heads apart through a half-mile in 46.25 seconds.

Comandante advanced three wide around the far turn and took command in midstretch while easily keeping West Hills Giant at bay through the lane. It was 4 1/4 lengths back to Anaphylaxis in third.

Comandante, a gelding by Frost Giant, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.66 and returned $9.30 as the third choice. It was one of three wins on the card for Castellano.

“I thought he ran well,” said Pletcher, who took over Comandante’s training from Mike Trombetta after the Saratoga meet. “Cutting back [from a mile] was probably a good thing for him, and he got a perfect outside stalking trip. It worked out really well.”

Wycoff said he moved the horse from the Maryland-based Trombetta to Pletcher because he wanted to keep his New York-bred horses in New York. Pletcher, like Trombetta before him, did a lot of gate work with Comandante, who had gate issues that contributed to several poor performances earlier in the year.

“We gave him time off after he was third here in the mud in January just to give the horse a break because he had been going since the 2-year-old sale,” Wycoff said. “When he came back, he had gotten bad in the gate … Both Mike Trombetta and Todd did a lot of work with him. He really fits [Castellano] because he’s very relaxed in the gate.”