Starformer (outside) prevails in Long Island Handicap. (Photo by Adam Coglianese/NYRA)
By Claire Novak, @BH_CNovak
Briefly headed in deep stretch but game every step of the way, Juddmonte Farms' homebred Starformer repealed the challenge of Mystical Star to take the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct Nov. 10.
The 4-year-old Dynaformer filly came off a fourth-place finish in the Oct. 7 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott to get the 1 1/2-mile turf event in frontrunning fashion and a final time of 2:33.13 over soft ground.
"Nobody knows [how they will handle the soft going] until you try," said Rodolphe Brisset, Mott's assistant. "We scratched her from the Flower Bowl thinking she may not handle the soft going. She then ran a very good race in the Spinster. I guess if you have to take a shot, it was today."
Perfectly rated by Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, Starformer shifted over from the inside post and settled into an easy rhythm through early splits of :25.27, :52.37, and 1:18.13. Hit it Rich, winner of the Long Island last year, prompted that pace. Mystical Star was also forwardly-placed in the first tier.
"It's been raining and snowing, and a lot of the water goes to the inside," Prado explained. "I had the No. 1 post position, so I had to come running out of there and take her to the outside. It seemed like the plan worked out beautiful. She was happy up there, enjoying the trip."
Slightly wide off the final turn and a mile in 1:43.17, the filly dug in gamely through 1 1/4 miles in 2:07.75 to deny Mystical Star the win by a neck. Aigue Marine came running late to nose out Tannery in a photo for third, while Hit It Rich, Senada, Kissable, and The West Rim completed the order of finish; Clarinet scratched and Centring was entered for the main track only.
"When the other horse came to her she felt the other horse and picked it up at the end," Prado said. "Me and her, we get along pretty good."
Starformer, who began her career with four starts in France before coming to the U.S. in the summer of 2011, has one other graded stakes win on her resume, the July 14 Robert G. Dick Memorial (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park.
"When she won in Delaware, she won on the lead," said Brisset. "The main thing is, I think, you don't want them rank. You want them very relaxed. You can see her ears were pricked; she was a happy horse all the way around and she got the job done. Edgar knows her so there wasn't any big, big conference.
Just let her do what she has to do and what she knows, and that's what she did."
Off at odds of 8-1, Starformer rewarded her backers with payoffs of $18, $9.30, and $5.90, while Mystical Star brought $5.80 and $4.10 and Aigue Marine paid $7.40.
Bred in Kentucky out of the group I-winning Miswaki mare Etoile Montante, Starformer improved her record from 13 starts to 4-2-3. Her earnings total $349,749.
For an Equibase chart, click here.