01/29/2011 7:27PM

Trip for A.J. turns the tables in Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf

Adam Coglianese
Trip for A.J., winning the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, adds a touch of class to the Capital Request on Gulfstream's closing-day card.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trip for A.J. avenged a heart-breaking setback at the hands of Askbut I Won’ttell when hey met in Calder’s My Charmer Handicap when she scored a half-length upset over her nemesis in Saturday’s $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park.  

In the Grade 3 My Charmer on Dec. 4, Trip for A.J. was hard used contesting the pace, shook free at midstretch, but could not withstand the final surge from Askbut I Won’ttell. But jockey John Velazquez opted to use different tactics in Saturday’s rematch, rating Trip for A.J. off the early pace set by Becky’s Exchange and Speak Easy Gal in the Filly and Mare Turf.     

Trip for A.J. tipped out three-wide to launch her bid near the quarter pole,  gained a short advantage in early stretch, edged away, and had enough left to withstand Askbut I Won’ttell’s final bid. Askbut I Won'ttell made a quick move to close contention while racing wide approaching the stretch, bore out even further turning for home, but this time just was not  good enough to run down Trip for A.J. at the end.

Scolara finished another 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Dynaslew, who went off the 2-1 co-choice along with Askbut I Won’ttell, stopped badly after stalking the early pace and finished last in a field of 13.

Trip For A.J.($14.40), fifth in the Grade 3 Marshua's River three weeks ago, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:49.49.

“She’s just been so consistent,” said Milt Wolfson who trains Trip for A.J. for owner-breeder Peter Fuller. “She was a little short for her last race because she had an abscess in a foot and I was afraid to train her hard coming up to the race. But we got that cleaned up and she trained super coming up to this one. This was a tough race to figure with all the speed in there so I told Johnny to play it by ear and he rode a great race.”

Aegean noses out Jessica Is Back in Filly and Mare Sprint            

Aegean picked the right day to turn in the best race of her career, rallying from just off the pace to register a nose victory over Grade 1 winner Jessica Is Back in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint.  Amen Hallelujah, the 3-2 favorite, finished fifth in a field of 10 Florida-breds and California breds.

The Sunshine Millions was the richest win for Aegean, who also captured the Dream Supreme overnight stakes at Churchill Downs in November for owner Steven Michael Bell and trainer Wesley Ward.

Aegean stalked the early pace of Wildcat Heiress and Feel That Fire while racing four-wide under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, gained a short advantage entering the stretch, then fought on gamely to withstand a final surge from Jessica Is Back. , winner of the Grade 1 Princess Rooney last summer at Calder but coming off a very dull effort just two weeks ago in the Sugar Swirl, hugged the rail throughout before finishing with a good burst of speed along the inside to just miss. Feel The Fire fought on bravely to finish less than a length farther back in third.

Aegean ($20.20) completed six furlongs in 1:09.61 a fast track. 

“She’s taken a while to come around,” said Ward. “She was messed up internally when she came back from England after racing at Ascot but she’s starting to get settled in as she’s gotten older. She seems to run better in blinkers and also showed today that she has tactical ability.”

Ward said he plans to space Aegean’s races with the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint his main objective for the year.