11/12/2011 6:04PM

Aqueduct: Hit it Rich takes Long Island to give McGaughey a sweep

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Hit It Rich wins the Long Island Handicap under Javier Castellano.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Hit It Rich stalked the early pace, wrested command on the third and final turn, and drove clear to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Long Island Handicap, completing a sweep of Aqueduct’s graded turf stakes for Shug McGaughey.

Sent off as the third choice in a field of eight fillies and mares, Hit It Rich ($10.80) bided her time in second position under Javier Castellano as longshot Unbridled Essence took the lead from her inside post. Hit It Rich took over nearing the quarter pole and remained clear through the lane to win by a length and a half.

“It looked like there wasn’t much speed at all, but [Unbridled Essence] rushed and wanted to dictate the pace,” said Castellano. “The pace was very slow and my filly loved to gallop right next to the lead.”

Hit It Rich, making her first start in a graded stake since a tough-trip sixth in last year’s Sands Point, ran 1 1/2  miles in 2:30.39 on a firm turf course and earned $90,000 for owner-breeder Stuart S. Janney III. The 4-year-old filly by Smart Strike won for the third time in five starts this year, and improved to 5-1-2 from 11 starts overall.

“I think this is a pretty big move forward to go from a three-other-than into something like this,” said McGaughey, who saddled Boisterous to win last week’s Grade 2 Red Smith. “We’ve asked her to do quite a bit these past couple of months. We’ll give her a little break and hopefully next summer she’ll be the kind that can maybe participate in some of the bigger races.”

Defending titlist Mekong Melody, making the 28th and final start of her career, rallied three wide to finish a clear second as the 2-1 second choice. Musical Rain edged Hasay for third. Emerald Beech was a non-threatening fifth as the 19-10 favorite.

Akris Queen, Unbridled Essence, and Little Often Anni completed the order of finish.