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Aqueduct: Maleeh wins Capossela in breakthrough for McLaughlin barn
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It hasn’t been a great winter for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s 3-year-olds, with horses like Long River, Valid, and Transparent thus far disappointing in their stakes attempts.
There was a glimmer of hope last week when Elnaawi ran a respectable third in the Grade 3 Gotham.
Saturday, however, the McLaughlin stable broke through with a stakes victory when Maleeh, under a ground-saving trip from Eddie Castro, rallied past 3-5 favorite Clawback at the sixteenth pole and drew clear for a 2 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct.
Tenango, the longest shot on the board at 57-1, overcame a slow start to get second by a head over Clawback. Silver Morgan, Weekend Hideaway, Whiskey Romeo, and Rubysandpearls completed the order of finish.
The victory was the second in as many starts for Maleeh, a son of Indian Charlie out of the six-time graded stakes winning mare Gold Mover.
“We were happy to show up today,” said Art Magnuson, New York-based assistant for McLaughlin. “Him winning and running like that is pretty special. He’s a pretty nice horse.”
Magnuson said that Maleeh is also “a little fragile,” which would explain why he hasn’t run since he won his debut on Jan. 6.
But he was certainly prepared to run Saturday.
Breaking from the rail under Eddie Castro, Maleeh stayed on the inside, just behind the first flight of Whiskey Romeo, Clawback, Rubysandpearls, and Weekend Hideaway.
In upper stretch, Clawback took over from Whiskey Romeo, but Maleeh, tipped three wide by Castro, zipped past Clawback at the sixteenth pole and drew clear for the win.
Maleeh covered six furlongs in 1:10.43 and returned $13.40 to win.
“We were in a very good spot. I was only worried about how much horse he had under him, but I liked where we were,” Magnuson said.
Conversely, Irad Ortiz Jr. didn’t like where he was early aboard favored Clawback, pressing Whiskey Romeo through an opening quarter of 22.92 seconds, with two horses to his outside.
“A couple of horses moved a little early. I’m right there in that position, I can’t take back at the half-mile or three eighths pole I got to keep going,” said Ortiz, who did win three races on the card. “He made his move, we went a little fast, and they got me at the end.”
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