The Phipps Stable and Claiborne Farm have a promising older horse to look forward to for next year in Performer, who repelled a bid from the favored Tax to take Saturday’s $203,200 Discovery (G3) at Aqueduct in his stakes debut.
The 2-1 second choice in a field of seven three-year-olds, Performer rated in second behind pacesetter Carlos L., took over from that rival in upper stretch, and dug in to win by 1 1/4 lengths under Joel Rosario, who was winning the race for the fourth year in a row and a record-equaling fifth time.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, Performer covered 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.36 and paid $6.40. Jim Dandy (G2) and Withers (G3) winner Tax was 9 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Grumps Little Tots.
This was the first Discovery winner to sport the famed black and cherry cap silks of the Phipps Stable since Comic in 1962. The late Ogden Phipps also won the 1952 Discovery with future champion steeplechaser Ancestor.
Third in his debut over the Aqueduct strip last November, Performer reeled off three straight over the summer. Following a June 29 maiden win at Belmont going six furlongs, he captured a Saratoga allowance going 6 1/2 furlongs and then stretched out to 1 1/16 miles when taking another allowance, over Grumps Little Tots, at Belmont on September 29. He’s now earned $257,000.
“He trained really, really well coming into it and I thought it was a really good race and performance for him,” McGaughey said. “Joel gave him a good ride and he was in perfect position all the way around. For him to have something left at the end to battle and pull away showed his ability.”
By Speightstown, Performer is out of the Grade 2-placed Protesting, by A.P. Indy, who has also reared stakes winner Breaking the Rules. A three-quarter sister to Grade 2 winner Parading, Protesting descends from undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign via multiple Grade 1 winner My Flag, who reared champion filly Storm Flag Flying.
Long Island Stakes
Needing to make up more than nine lengths and pass 10 rivals in the final quarter-mile of the $400,000 Long Island (G3), Si Que Es Buena did just that with an incredible rail-skimming rally under Rosario to post a popular win as the 13-10 favorite in the 11-furlong grass test for fillies and mares.
The top seven at the wire were separated by one length, with Si Que Es Buena victorious by a neck over My Sister Nat, with Decorating third by the same margin. Owned by Shimakawa Takaya and trained by Graham Motion, Si Que Es Buena paid $4.60 after completing the distance in 2:19.68 on the good inner turf.
A Group 3 winner in her native Argentina, Si Que Es Buena has now won three times in five North American appearances. Fourth as a 60-1 chance in the 2018 Long Island in her first start on the continent, she subsequently won the $75,000 Via Borghese and La Prevoyante (G3) at Gulfstream. She was most recently sixth in the E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine when returning from a layoff of more than eight months.
A six-year-old by Equal Stripes, Si Que Es Buena is out of Epoca Buena, by Mutakddim.
Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship
Godolphin homebred Fully Vested made a three-wide bid for the lead entering the stretch and burst clear to comfortably take the $128,500 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship under Jose Lezcano.
The winning margin was 7 1/4 lengths over Vici, with Lonhtwist third. The favorite in a field of seven, Fully Vested paid $5.10 after completing six furlongs on the outer course in 1:09.49.
This was the first stakes win for the five-year-old gelding, who’s now won two of four since switching to the turf over the summer. He preceded this victory with a third in the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint on October 5.
“It was definitely a class relief coming out of his last race running against Final Frontier and Shekky Shebazz,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “We felt pretty good coming into today, and he ran better than I could have ever imagined.
“He wouldn’t be a bad candidate for Dubai (Al Quoz Sprint [G1] in March), just thinking in the moment, but I’ll speak to the connections before we make any plans.” Albertrani said.
By Discreet Cat, the Tom Albertrani trainee is out of the stakes-placed Trade Only, a daughter of Unbridled who’s also reared the stakes-winning Midnight Watch. Fully Vested’s third dam was Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise.