12/18/2016 2:15PM

Toni Tools notches third in row for trainer Pletcher


OZOEN PARK, N.Y. - Toni Tools was last of six with a sixteenth of a mile to go in Sunday’s $150,000 Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes. But the heavy, muddy Aqueduct inner track began to take its toll on the front-runners and Toni Tools came with a furious rally to get up in the final strides.

Toni Tools, ridden by Manny Franco, won by a half-length while Passporttotvictory, next to last at the sixteenth pole, nosed out Filibustin, the pace-setting 4-5 favorite, for second. Though the placing judges initially posted on the toteboard a dead-heat for second, the race was not made official until the stewards examined and re-examined the photo and determined that Passporttovictory was second. Filibustin was third followed by Catcher in the Sky, Gonna Be Morgan, and Bliss to You.

For Toni Tools, the win was her third straight, all since moving to trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn. For Filibustin, the loss was her first after beginning her career with three straight wins.

The connections of both the winners and the losers mentioned how the heavy track - and rapid pace - factored in the race.

Filibustin, breaking from the rail under Jose Lezcano, broke on top and ran an opening quarter in 22.07 while being chased by Catcher in the Sky. Filibustin appeared to get away from Catcher in the Sky after a half-mile in 45.83. Filibustin had a length lead leaving the eighth pole, but she began to tire.

Meanwhile, Toni Tools, 10 1/2 lengths back at the top of the stretch, was getting closer and kept coming to get there on the wire.

“She didn’t have the speed to keep up with the others, which we knew coming into the race, and we were just hoping the speed would come back and it did,” said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher.

Toni Tools, a daughter of Roaring Fever owned by St. Elias Stable, MeB Racing Stables, and Brooklyn Boyz Stables, covered six furlongs in 1:14.43 and returned $13.40 to win.

“I watched her replays and she always gives something at the end and the pace helped me a lot today, Franco said.

Lezcano, up from Florida to ride Filibustin, said “the track was too heavy and we went fast early and it got to her at the end.”