04/04/2015 4:38PM

Condo Commando captures Gazelle

Michael Amoruso
Condo Commando wins the Gazelle Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths Saturday at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The Kentucky Oaks has not been kind to Michael Dubb. In 2005, he owned a part of Sis City, who finished fourth as the 3-5 favorite. In 2012, he was majority owner of Grace Hall, who finished third as the 5-2 favorite.

Now, Dubb is going back to the Oaks with Condo Commando, whose potent speed carried her to a 2 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct, stamping her as one of the favorites for the $1 million Oaks on May 1.

“Maybe third time’s the charm,” said Dubb, who owns Condo Commando with Bethlehem Stable and The Elkstone Group.

Puca, who was in front entering the first turn, came on again to get second by 2 3/4 lengths over Money’soncharlotte, who rallied from last to get third by a length over Wonder Gal. Sweet Corine, Noble and a Beauty, and Jacaranda completed the order of finish.

The win was the fifth from six career starts for Condo Commando, a daughter of Tiz Wonderful who at 2 won the Grade 1 Spinaway and Grade 2 Demoiselle by a combined 24 3/4 lengths. This year, she began her career with a 4 3/4-length victory in the Busher Stakes on Feb. 21 over Aqueduct’s inner track.

Despite her gaudy record, there were some lingering doubts about Condo Commando, who seemed to catch speed-favoring surfaces in her previous starts.

The Aqueduct main track seemed to favor horses that lay close to the pace Saturday as well.

Puca, under Manuel Franco, used her rail post to her advantage and went to the lead entering the first turn. Around the turn, however, Condo Commando shot to the lead and had a half-length lead over Puca through an opening quarter in 23.11 seconds.

Condo Commando maintained a clear advantage down the backstretch through a half-mile in 48.06 and six furlongs in 1:13.56. Turning into the stretch, Rosario asked Condo Commando to run and she opened up a three-length advantage by midstretch. She basically maintained that advantage to the wire.

Condo Commando covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.17 and returned $3.30 to win as the 3-5 favorite.

Rosario said he was a little surprised Puca outfooted him to the first turn, and he was waiting to see whether Franco was going to continue to the front or take a hold. When Franco took a hold of Puca, Rosario was happy to put Condo Commando on the lead.

“She’s a big filly, and she just does it easy,” Rosario said. “That long stride that she has, she just kept it going, kept it going. When I turned for home, still in hand … I pushed her a little bit, and she was there for me.”

Rudy Rodriguez, the trainer of Condo Commando, said his filly was just 90 percent fit for the Busher but is 100 percent fit now.

“She ran like she was 100 percent,” Rodriguez said. “We just got to keep her sound and keep her healthy.”

Bill Mott, the trainer of Puca, said he was surprised but not upset to see his filly race that close to the early pace.

“I think we had a good trip,” Mott said.”It was good to let her lay up a little closer. She broke well enough, did it on her own.”

Mott and owner Jerry Crawford said Puca would be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks.