04/06/2013 2:48PM

Aqueduct: Withgreatpleasure upsets Ruffian

Tom Keyser
Withgreatpleasure, with John Velazquez riding, pays $30.60 winning the Ruffian.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer David Nunn said he had no intention of running Withgreatpleasure in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap at Aqueduct.

But a sharp workout earlier in the week and with the race shaping up, in Nunn’s words, “a soft Grade 2” he changed his mind.

Nunn was rewarded for the change of heart when Johnny Velazquez shot Withgreatpleasure through a gaping hole along the inside at the five-sixteenths pole, and she outlasted 4-5 favorite My Wandy’s Girl to the wire to win the Ruffian by three-quarters of a length.

My Wandy’s Girl, who had finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Withgreatpleasure when the two were second and third in the Barbara Fritchie in February, finished second by 2 1/2 lengths over Twice the Lady.

Centrique, Funnys Approval, the Barbara Fritchie winner, and Onepointhreekarats, completed the order of finish.

The win was the first in a graded stakes for Withgreatpleasure, a 5-year-old daughter of Hold That Tiger who is now 7 for 32 in her career. It was the first graded win for trainer Nunn, who turns 44 years old on Wednesday.

“This is the best birthday present ever,” Nunn said.
Withgreatpleasure had been competitive with four of the five runners she was to face Saturday. But Nunn had designs on a stakes race at Charles Town on April 20, which made sense since she had just won a starter handicap over that track on March 19.

But Nunn altered course when Withgreatpleasure blew out a sharp three furlongs earlier in the week.

“It was very impressive,” said Nunn, referring to a workout that did not appear in her past performances.

Nunn was able to get Velazquez to ride the day of entries and Velazquez put up his typical Hall of Fame ride.

Velazquez had Withgreatpleasure sitting along the inside in third position while Funnys Approval set fractions of 22.79 and 45.81 seconds for the first half-mile.

Juan Vargas kept Funnys Approval well off the rail, and Velazquez, not wanting to allow Vargas to shut him off, sent Withgreatpleasure on through at the five-sixteenths pole. She got first jump on My Wandy’s Girl, who was four wide under Irad Ortiz Jr. and held that one at bay to the wire.

“I got there maybe a little too soon, but I had to take the chance when it was open. I didn’t want to wait, and he look at me and try to close the hole on me,” Velazquez said. “I took the chance to move in there and she lasted.”

Withgreatpleasure covered the mile in 1:36.52 and returned $30.60 as the second-longest shot on the board.

“This was an easy Grade 2 without a doubt,” Nunn said. “This was my last shot at taking a shot before the big girls come back. She’s a nice filly, this was a soft Grade 2. Everybody in the race she’s been competitive with. She just needed her day.”