03/10/2012 6:00PM

Aqueduct: Hardened Wildcat leads one-two finish for Brown in Capossela

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Hardened Wildcat surges late under Junior Alvarado to take the Fred "Cappy' Capossela Stakes.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though Hardened Wildcat won his last start, jockey Junior Alvarado wasn’t enthused with the manner in which it was accomplished.

So, going into Saturday’s $100,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct, Alvarado decided to employ different tactics.

In the end, Alvarado and Hardened Wildcat got the same result.

Taken back to last by Alvarado early, Hardened Wildcat came with an explosive kick in the stretch to run past stablemate Beggarthyneighbor and win the $100,000 Capossela Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. Beggarthyneighbor finished second, one-half length in front of the pacesetting How Do I Win. Copy My Swagger finished fourth, followed by Christopher’s Joy and Ancient Rome. Perfect Trippi scratched.

The first two finishers were trained by Chad Brown, who moments later won the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs with Zagora.

Hardened Wildcat, a 3-year-old gelded son of Hard Spun, won for the third straight time after finishing fifth as the 2-1 favorite in his debut on Dec. 3.

Brown had considered running Hardened Wildcat in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 3, but decided to give the gelding another week and keep him sprinting.

In a Feb. 10 allowance race, Hardened Wildcat won from about four lengths off the pace to beat Perfect Trippi by three-quarters of a length. It did not impress Alvarado.

 “Last time he was [too] close, and he didn’t finish that well,” Alvarado said. “I said ‘I’m going to ride him like I think he’s going to be better - take him back and make one run.’ ”

Hardened Wildcat was about nine lengths off the lead as How Do I Win ran an opening quarter in 23.32 seconds. He was still six back after a half-mile run in 46.72.

Alvarado had Hardened Wildcat saving ground before guiding him five wide turning into the stretch.

Beggarthyneighbor, who under Eddie Castro chased How Do I Win through the early fractions, poked a head in front at the sixteenth pole, but could not hold off Hardened Wildcat, who covered six furlongs in 1:10.89 and returned $6.20 as the favorite.

Cherie DeVaux, Brown’s New York-based assistant, said it wasn’t until Friday night that Brown made the decision to run both horses. DeVaux said the riding tactics were left up to each individual jockey.

 “Chad left it up to them to ride their races and just find position and go from there,” DeVaux said.