11/16/2013 4:56PM

Aqueduct: Imagining overcomes tough trip to win Red Smith

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Imagining captures the Grade 3 Red Smith under Joel Rosario on Saturday.

The Phipps Stable and Shug McGaughey captured Saturday’s $250,000 Red Smith Handicap for the third straight year when Imagining surged to the lead just inside the eighth pole and turned back late runs from Hangover Kid and Tannery to prevail by a half-length in the Grade 3 race.

Thought to be the potential pacesetter in the 1 3/8-mile turf race, Imagining broke a step slowly with Joel Rosario and raced in the middle of the pack while strung out wide, as Mission Approved ambled along on the lead for 1 1/4 miles before finally giving way.

Imagining briefly opened a daylight lead inside the eighth pole and held on to secure the victory for his connections, which won the last two Red Smith renewals with Boisterous.

“I thought he’d be racing on the lead or in second, but he broke a little slowly and I had to race behind horses,” said Rosario. “They weren’t going all that fast, and we were able to move up. I asked him turning for home, and he gave it to me.”

Imagining paid $8.30 to win as the second choice. He carried 118 pounds and ran 1 3/8 miles in 2:18.43 on a firm turf course. It was the first graded stakes win for the 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, who was second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at 3 but had been off the board in his three subsequent starts in graded events. This was his fourth win from six starts this year, and he improved to 7-3-0 from 14 starts overall.

“(Joel) let him settle in and get to the outside, which is where he wanted to be,” said McGaughey. “I was glad to see that. I said to myself when they were going down the backside, ‘I hope he punches from here,’ because it would be something different for him. It was a pretty good bunch of horses; I think we’re moving on up.”

McGaughey said Imagining could run next in the Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 14 or in Florida.

The 23-1 longshot Hangover Kid and the filly Tannery brought up the rear in the 12-horse field until the final turn. They rallied wide and finished fast to wind up noses apart in second and third. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Slip and Drive, who finished fourth. Hyper, the 3-2 favorite and 120 pound highweight, never fired and checked in eighth in the field of 12.

Rosario narrowly missed a sweep of the day’s three stakes. Earlier on the card, he was aboard So Lonesome, who rallied widest to take the $100,000 Virgo Libra overnight stakes in a frantic photo finish over Marvin’s Miracle and Blue Pigeon. He paid $15.60 to win.
So Lonesome, a 2-year-old gelding by Awesome Again trained by Tom Bush, was making his turf debut following a third-place finish in the Bertram F. Bongard.

In the $100,000 Move It Now overnight stakes, Awesome Vision - another son of Awesome Again - rallied widest of all into the stretch under Irad Ortiz Jr. and edged Rosario’s mount, Zivo, by a head. It was the third stakes win of the year and the sixth win at Aqueduct for Awesome Vision, a Tom Albertrani-trained New York-bred. He paid $14.20 to win.