Updated on 09/17/2011 11:56AM

Tracking plan works for Spice Island

Spice Island ($16.00) gets her first graded stakes win in the Grade 2, $150,000 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Spice Island ran her winning streak to three and notched her first graded stakes victory in Saturday's 1 1/2-mile, Grade 2 at Aqueduct.

Ridden by Victor Carrero, Spice Island tracked the front-runners for most of the three-turn race and then ran down favored Volga in the last 100 yards to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Spice Island was the fourth choice in the 11-horse field and paid $16 to win. After setting most of the pace, Banyu Dewi was third, four lengths behind Spice Island.

Spice Island, a 4-year-old filly by Tabasco Cat out of the Alysheba mare Crown of Sheba, ran her final quarter-mile in less than 24 seconds to post a final time of 2:32.58 on yielding turf. The exacta paid $62, and the trifecta was $243.

Spice Island, who is trained by John Pregman Jr., came into the Long Island off a 6 1/2-length win in the $150,000 Dowager Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 19. The Dowager, like the Long Island, was at 1 1/2 miles.

With the $90,000 purse, Spice Island has now earned $392,656. She was claimed by Kurt and Kim Buttenhoff for $40,000 out of a maiden race at Monmouth Park on Aug. 26, 2002, initially as a broodmare prospect for the Buttenhoff's Empire Stud in New York. With her recent successes on the grass, Spice Island will remain in training at least through next year, Buttenhoff said.

"She just kind of matured this year," said Kurt Buttenhoff after the race. "John's really brought her along, and we really think she's just getting good right now. We knew that as long as she was sitting close to the pace, she'd be there at the end."

Carrero, who said he studied tapes of Spice Island's races the morning of the Long Island, said he deliberately tracked the favored Volga down the stretch in the hopes of swinging Spice Island into the clear after Volga made her run. Spice Island made up at least three lengths deep in the stretch to run down Volga, who came into the Long Island off a win in the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor Stakes.

"The trainer told me to get her in position from the start," Carrero said. "I had my eye on Volga, because she's a nice horse, and I had to follow her."

Pregman said that Spice Island would head to Florida for the winter and point for turf stakes at Gulfstream Park.

"It's a shame that the turf season is coming to an end here," Pregman said.