July 25, 2024

Master Piece denies Soldier Rising in Red Smith; Implicated rallies inside for Pebbles

Master Piece at Aqueduct
Master Piece wins the Red Smith at Aqueduct (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Chelsea Durand)

The $300,000 Red Smith (G2) headlined a pair of graded stakes on Aqueduct’s firm turf Saturday.

Last seen finishing 10th in the Arlington Million (G1), Master Piece came back running from a three-month freshening in the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith, rallying boldly to the lead in deep stretch and holding the fast-finishing Soldier Rising safe by a neck on the wire. The seven-year-old horse snapped a seven-race losing streak while making his third start for Rick Dutrow, upsetting rivals as the 10.80-1 sixth choice, and Jose Lezcano guided Master Piece to his second U.S. stakes victory.

“I’m very happy with the race,” Dutrow said. “He had been training very, very well for the last couple of months since the weather started to cool off. That’s key for him. He turned into a really good training, good feeling horse. He’s been very, very happy lately.”

Owned by Michael & Julia Iavarone, Nicholas Zoumas, Dino Baccari, Frank Argano, and Peter Douglass, the late-running gray was timed in 2:14.56.

A pair of longshots, So High and Tide of the Sea, battled through opening splits in :24.58, :48.04, and 1:13 while more than five lengths clear of the rest. Master Piece rated about 10 lengths back in the next pack of runners during the opening stages, angled wide while advancing into the stretch, and closed determinedly on the outside to overtake Verstappen.

“I had a good break and the good position I wanted,” Lezcano said. “I asked him at the quarter pole and took him out. From there to the finish line, he ran hard like the good horse that he is. They were going to have to come and get him.”

Soldier Rising, the 9-5 favorite, came flying from last to just miss on the wire, recording his eighth runner-up finish at the graded level, and 12th overall stakes placing, including six Grade 1s, without a stakes win.

Verstappen, Cross Border, Nineeleventurbo, Limited Liability, Daunt, So High, Marwad, Tide of the Sea, and Lost Ark completed the order of finish.

A Group 2 winner in his native Chile in 2019, Master Piece was imported to California and notched his first stateside stakes triumph in last year’s Eddie Read (G2) at Del Mar, concluding his 2022 season with a head second in the Del Mar H. (G2) and an eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland. He finished third in the Mac Diarmida (G2) and Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Master Piece has now earned $713,412 from a 26-7-4-3 record.

Chad Brown sent out three of the nine runners in the $200,000 Pebbles (G3) for three-year-old fillies, and Implicated outperformed her more fancied stablemates, utilizing an inside run to post a 10-1 upset in the one-mile affair. Manny Franco was up on the gray daughter of Connect, and Implicated stopped the teletimer in 1:35.82.

Implicated saved ground from the innermost post just behind the early leaders, cut the corner into the stretch, and courageously outfinished rivals to score by a half-length.

“I was able to break sharp and my filly put me in a great position in the turn,” Franco said. “After that, I saw the horse on the lead (Precious Avary) so my only chance was to get through to the inside and I was glad I had the horse to make the move. She was there for me. I knew the horses form behind would close but, at the same time, it was a flat mile and I knew I had the filly to get there.”

Sacred Wish, off as the 3.25-1 second choice for George Weaver, closed well for second, a neck better than 7-2 Startup Mentality for Brown. It was another nose to Silver Skillet and next came Rhiannon, the 7-5 favorite for Brown, On the Shortlist, Plentitude, Precious Avary, and Stephanie’s Charm.

Winner of Chelsey Flower S. on Aqueduct’s turf last fall, Implicated finished fourth when returning from a 12-month layoff in a turf allowance on Oct. 19. She rebounded while making her graded stakes debut in the Pebbles, increasing her career earnings to $246,970 from a 5-3-0-1 record.

“I don’t know what happened last time,” Brown said. “Maybe she needed the race, but generally my horses don’t first time off a layoff. The only thing I was thinking about when I spoke to Manny in the paddock was maybe she didn’t like seeing daylight the whole way…I think it’s a combination of her needing the race and getting her back covered up. Last year when she ran covered up, she was better. I told Manny in the paddock, ‘You drew a nice, cozy post here. If you can get a pocket trip, let’s test her out.’ I thought I had her ready last time but sure enough, a covered trip worked for her and Manny did a great job.”

Bred in Kentucky by Somewhere Stables, Implicated sold for $125,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale. She’s campaigned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Cambron Equine, and Laura Leigh Stable.

Brown said because Implicated came back from a lengthy layoff recently, she would stay in training this winter. The American Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 is a possible target.