OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The cold weather and Aqueduct seem to bring out the best in Wudda U Think Now.
Wudda U Think Now survived a pace battle with Dr. Blute and lasted to the wire to win Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes for New York-breds by 3 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct.
Sea Foam, who was sitting a perfect stalking trip, couldn’t make headway in the final furlong and had to settle for second, 2 3/4 lengths in front of Perfect Munnings.
The win was the eighth from 19 starts for Wudda U Think Now, a 5-year-old gelding by Fast Anna owned by Stuart Grant’s The Elkstone Group and trained by Rudy Rodriguez. It was the sixth win at Aqueduct and fifth during a winter month for Wudda U Think Now.
“He just loves Aqueduct, he just loves the winter,” Rodriguez said. “As soon as the winter [comes] he gets stronger in the mornings.”
Wudda U Think Now, under Dylan Davis, dueled with Dr. Blute through a quarter in 22.96 seconds and a half-mile in 45.72 over a sealed, muddy surface. Coming to the quarter pole, Dr. Blute couldn’t keep up while Wudda U Think Now opened up.
Though he tired badly in the stretch – he got his final quarter in 28.10 seconds – Wudda U Think Now won without a serious challenge.
“He likes to be in control,” Davis said. “He gave me enough to finish up with to get the win. He was [tiring], but I feel like he found some energy late and he keeps his momentum. He was a little reluctant to switch leads, but that’s okay, we didn’t bother him too much, he was getting the job done.”
Rodriguez said even though he saw Wudda U Think Now was tiring, he wasn’t overly concerned.
“He’s the type of horse that when he hits the stretch he gives a little extra,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a fighter.”
After going the first half-mile in 45.72 seconds, Wudda U Think Now went the second half in 53.61 to cover the mile in 1:39.33. He returned $21.60 to win.
Venti Valentine takes Bay Ridge
Benefitting from her outside post draw, a clean trip and a no-show effort from the favorite, Venti Valentine cruised to a 3 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Bay Ridge Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.
Know It All Audrey, who cut the corner turning for home, finished second by 6 3/4 lengths over Spungie. Let Her Inspire U, the 4-5 favorite, backed up to fourth after sitting second early on. Mashnee Girl, the pacesetter, retreated to fifth followed by Fight On Lucy.
The win was the fourth from 10 career starts for Venti Valentine, but first since March 7 when she won the Busher Stakes here by seven lengths. She had lost her last five starts including a sixth in the Iroquois Stakes on Oct. 30, after which trainer Jorge Abreu was going to stop on her. But Dan Zanatta of NY Final Furlong Stable, which owns Venti Valentine with Parkland Thoroughbreds, wanted to run once more and that decision paid off.
Abreu had jockey Dylan Davis work the horse last week and she worked so well that Abreu lobbied for Davis to ride her in the Bay Ridge.
Breaking from post 5 in the six-horse field, Venti Valentine sat fourth and in the clear, about 3 1/2 lengths off the pace established by Mashnee Girl.
Davis rallied Venti Valentine four wide turning for home and she overtook Mashnee Girl and Let Her Inspire U in upper stretch. Know It All Audrey, under Javier Castellano, rallied along the rail under, but Venti Valentine outfinished her and drew clear late.
“I just wanted her to be nice and comfortable,” Davis said. “I took the outside route with clean air and everything and just gave her a chance to relax. She picked up the bridle at the five-eighths pole and did everything else for me.”
Venti Valentine, a daughter of Firing Line, covered the mile over the sealed, muddy surface in 1:39.19 and returned $6.90 to win.
“I felt pretty comfortable turning for home and Dylan was just sitting there, he had plenty of horse,” Abreu said. “He had plenty of horse and everything turned out good.”
Abreu said Venti Valentine would get 60 days off in Ocala before being prepared for her 4-year-old campaign.