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Aqueduct: Starformer goes to front, stays there in Long Island Handicap
By Dave Litfin
Maneuvered from her rail post to the middle of the snow-softened turf by Edgar Prado, Starformer set up shop in the four path and fended off all challenges to win Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct by a neck over Mystical Star.
Prado, a 2008 Hall of Fame inductee, took Starformer well off the inside soon after the start of the three-turn race, and was clear by a length or so while prompted by an even-wider Hit It Rich, the 2011 Long Island winner.
Starformer continued well out from the rail passing the stands for the first time, and got a breather through a second quarter-mile in a slow 27.10 seconds. From there, she dispensed three progressively faster quarters of 25.76, 25.04, and 24.58 seconds, and had sufficient reserves in the final furlong to repel Mystical Star and Aigue Marine, as Aigue Marine finished fastest of all in her United States debut to nose out Tannery for third.
Hit It Rich, Senada, Kissable and The West Rim completed the order of finish.
Starformer and Prado get along like peas and carrots. The Long Island brought them to 3-1-0 from 4 pairings, including the Robert G. Dick Memorial in similar front-running fashion. A Juddmonte Farms homebred, Starformer is 0 for 5 with anyone else since beginning the United States phase of her career for trainer Bill Mott.
"It's been raining and snowing, and a lot of the water goes to the inside," said Prado, who is closing in on 6,600 career wins. "I had the No. 1 post position, so I had to come running out of there and take her to the outside. It seemed like the plan worked out beautiful. She was happy up there, enjoying the trip, and when [Mystical Star] came to her, she felt the other horse and picked it up at the end. Me and her, we get along pretty good."
In winning the final graded turf stakes of the year in New York, Starformer ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:33.13 on a very soft course that had snow raked off earlier in the day.
"Nobody knows until you try," said assistant trainer Rodolphe Brisset about handling soft turf. "We scratched her from the Flower Bowl thinking she may not handle the soft going. I guess if you have to take a shot, it was today."
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