Dragic back with females in Stewart Manor
Dragic moved later than usual in the Oct. 7 Futurity at Belmont Park, though not late enough for her trainer, Wesley Ward. Fifth down the backstretch while chasing a hot pace over a tiring course, she advanced into third on the turn and into first in midstretch, only to be outfinished by Uncle Benny and Backtohisroots.
“They got the better part of the race, sitting farther back than us,” Ward said of her third-place finish.
She also lost to two quality colts, led by victorious Uncle Benny, who returned to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Sunday in the $100,000 Stewart Manor at Aqueduct, Dragic does not have to deal with those rivals or any male horses for that matter. She is back with females, again sprinting six furlongs on grass, just as she did in the Futurity.
Even so, she does not tower over the opposition. Two rivals, Regal Glory and Introduced, have run Beyer Speed Figures on turf comparable to the 76 posted by Dragic in the Futurity. Others act classy, notably French stakes winner Monette, who rallied to be a close second in the Grade 3 Matron on Oct. 8 at Belmont in her first race in North America.
“It’s a competitive bunch of fillies,” Ward said.
Dragic, a 2-year-old daughter of Broken Vow owned by Steven Bell, is now twice stakes-placed on grass, having also run third in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile on Sept. 1. That race followed a fourth on dirt behind two-time Grade 1 winner Bellafina in the Del Mar’s Sorrento and a firstout maiden win at Keeneland in April. Hall of Famer John Velazquez rides Dragic, the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
Second choice at 3-1 is Regal Glory, a Chad Brown-trained filly by Animal Kingdom who rallied from ninth to register a 5 1/2-length victory when debuting Oct. 6 at Belmont. A half-sister to two-time Grade 3 winner Night Prowler, she retains the services of Jose Ortiz, who was up for her maiden victory.
Another contender, the speedy Introduced, won her maiden on dirt when a scheduled turf race came off the grass Sept. 28 at Laurel Park. Previously, she had been second to Concrete Rose, subsequent winner of the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, in a 5 1/2-furlong turf race at Saratoga.
Although rain is in the forecast late Friday afternoon and evening, sunny skies and windy conditions are expected over the weekend in New York, potentially leaving a drying-out turf course Sunday.
Also Sunday at Aqueduct is the Staten Island Division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series, a seven-furlong, $125,000 race for fillies and mares that goes as the day’s finale. In that spot, millionaire Highway Star is easily the most accomplished and fastest entrant.
She also is racing on the shortest rest. After finishing eighth in the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Sprint, she returns eight days later, with her connections seeking to pounce on the opportunity to face restricted stakes company.
“I don’t usually run horses back this quickly, but she’s shown that she’s come back well from Churchill,” trainer Rodrigo Ubillo said. “We know that she likes to run in New York, and this is certainly an easier spot for her.”
A 5-year-old New Yorkbred daughter of Girolamo, graded winner Highway Star was tabbed as the 8-5 favorite. She brings a 3-for-5 record on the Aqueduct main track into Sunday’s race and a 3-for-7 mark at seven furlongs. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides.
Of her 10 adversaries, the next richest are the uncoupled Rudy Rodriguez-trained pair of Frosty Margarita, with earnings of $584,676, and Frostie Anne, a winner of $440,498. Both are stakes winners this year who went unplaced in their most recent outings.