11/01/2014 6:14PM

Protonico goes from last to first in Discovery

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Protonico, ridden by Joe Bravo, wins the Grade 3 Discovery by 2 3/4 lengths.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Protonico made winning the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap look easy at Aqueduct on Saturday.

Allowed to gallop along well behind his six rivals early by Joe Bravo, Protonico looped horses four wide on the far turn, overtook the battling pair of Bay of Plenty and Just Call Kenny in midstretch, and cruised home over the sloppy footing to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

Protonico is now 4 for 7 with earnings of $389,715. Bravo is 2 for 2 on him, and has been aboard for both of Protonico's stakes wins, the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx Racing on Sept. 1 and the $200,000 Discovery.

Protonico's owner was in from Chile for the Discovery. Oussama Aboughazale, who races as Sumaya U.S. Stable and bred Protonico's second dam in Chile as Haras Sumaya, was all smiles after the race despite the cold, rainy weather.

Wild Spirit is the second dam of Protonico. After winning four group stakes in Chile in 2002, she won the Grade 1 Ruffian, Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, and Grade 3 Shuvee for Aboughazale and the late trainer Bobby Frankel the following year.

"Protonico reminds me of his grandmother very much," Aboughazale said.

Protonico, a son of Giant's Causeway who is trained by Todd Pletcher, paid $13.60 to win. He covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.92.

Bay of Plenty came into the Discovery off three consecutive wins and was sent off the 3-2 favorite. He controlled the race on the lead through fractions of 47.56 seconds and 1:12.96, turned back a sustained bid from Just Call Kenny by a half-length but had no answer for Protonico's rally. Just Call Kenny, who lodged his bid three wide, finished six lengths in front of Our Caravan in fourth.

Second favorite Three Alarm Fire was a half-step slow away from the gate, raced between horses early and then tired to finish last.

Protonico, in his start prior to the Discovery, finished seventh in the Pennsylvania Derby. He had won the Smarty Jones 20 days earlier.

"Things didn't go quite right in the Pennsylvania Derby. We might have run him back a little too soon," said assistant trainer Byron Hughes. "But he hasn't missed a beat since and has been training great. Every morning he shows he can run at any time."