08/08/2012 5:26PM

Saratoga: My Miss Aurelia wins comeback race


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It may not have scored high aesthetically - speaking, but My Miss Aurelia’s comeback was successful nonetheless.

Despite an awkward start and a lugging-in finish, My Miss Aurelia, last year’s 2-year-old filly champion, won Wednesday’s $100,000 Mandy’s Gold Stakes by three lengths over Delightful Quality. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Well Kept in third.

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My Miss Aurelia, a daughter of Smart Strike, was making her first start in nine months, or since she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to cap off a perfect 2-year-old season. She is now 5 for 5 with the possibility of putting her undefeated record on the line in the Grade 1, $500,000 Test Stakes here on Aug. 25. She is 3 for 3 at Saratoga.

“How good she is gives you a lot of options,” said winning trainer Steve Asmussen. He added that the Test was “absolutely” one of those options “depending how she’s doing and how discussions go with” owners George Bolton and Barbara Banke.

My Miss Aurelia was doing fine entering the Mandy’s Gold, but she slid out from underneath her rider, Julien Leparoux, leaving the gate and was away last. The patient manner which defines Leparoux’s style proved beneficial for My Miss Aurelia, who was last, but only four lengths off the early modest pace set by Srumdiddlyumptious.

Leparoux made a four-wide move entering the far turn and continued a wide journey to the leaders at the top of the stretch. When My Miss Aurelia cleared the field in midstretch, she began to lug in, failing to change off her left lead. Still, she won handily while covering 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.90. My Miss Aurelia returned $2.50 as the 1-4 favorite.

“When she tried to leave there, she just slid from behind, then it looked like she stumbled a little bit,” said Leparoux, who rode the filly in her first starts last year. “That was a weird start, but she overcame it. She was very, very relaxed, and that’s a good thing.”

Leparoux said that My Miss Aurelia was going so easily that he didn’t feel the need to make her change leads.

“She was looking around, I think. I also never really had to ask her,” Leparoux said. “Maybe I should have asked her to pay attention a little bit more, but she won easy, and that was a good comeback race.”

Asmussen said he was “a little concerned she didn’t go back to the right lead,” but overall was happy to have his champion filly back to the races.

“The filly ran hard last year, and she was away from the races for nine months,” he said. “It’s excellent to see her back.”