Aqueduct, 7th Race - Nov. 24, 2007
OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Court Vision showed he has as much courage as talent and will enter 2008 as one of the leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby.
Court Vision overcame traffic trouble, a bumping incident in the stretch, and a claim of foul to record a neck victory over an unlucky Atoned in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. It was 4 1/4 lengths back to Trust N Dustan, who bumped with Court Vision in the stretch.
Big Truck, who leaned on Court Vision in upper stretch, finished fourth, followed by Springs Road and Tide Dancer. Alan Garcia, the rider of Big Truck, claimed foul against the winner, but the stewards disallowed it.
The win was the third straight for Court Vision, a son of Gulch owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Bill Mott, who 30 minutes earlier won the Grade 2 Demoiselle with Mushka. Court Vision was coming off a half-length score in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs last month.
Though heavily favored at 4-5, Court Vision had to overcome a difficult trip to earn the victory. Under Eibar Coa, Court Vision stalked the pace from the inside. Approaching the top of the stretch, Court Vision was seeking running room behind a wall of three horses.
Coa guided him to the four path, brushing with Big Truck, who then leaned back on Court Vision. Meanwhile, Atoned, who clipped heels with Big Truck leaving the clubhouse turn, made a big move to take the lead in upper stretch. As Court Vision was being leaned on by Trust N Dustan, Atoned opened up a three-length lead at the eighth pole.
Once in the clear, Court Vision was able to lengthen his stride to run down Atoned in the final yards. Court Vision covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.48 - 0.87 second slower than Mushka's time in the Demoiselle - and returned $3.80 to win.
"He overcome a lot," Coa said. "I was getting bounced all over from the five-sixteenths [pole] to the three-sixteenths. He just fought back and pushed them out because they were trying to push him in. After he overcame that, you saw the way he kicked; when I really asked him, he just dug in and was much the best today."
Said Mott: "He showed a lot of courage. I don't know what more you could ask for; I mean he just keeps coming."
It was a tough beat for Atoned, who lost significant ground after clipping heels with Big Truck.
"It's a shame to run that big and lose by a head," said Seth Benzel, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "Lot of guts. I thought we were out of the race when he stumbled."
Demoiselle: Mushka flies late
Thirty minutes before Court Vision's victory, Mott saddled Mushka to a last-to-first victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Demoiselle for juvenile fillies. Under John Velazquez, Mushka won by 4 1/2 lengths over Elusive Lady, the 5-2 favorite.
It was 3 1/4 lengths back to Melissa Jo in third.
Mushka, a $1.6 million daughter of Empire Maker owned by Ahmed Zayat, lingered at the back of the pack while Be Fruitful set fractions of 23.35 seconds, 47.91, and 1:13.23. Mushka launched her bid entering the far turn, and despite having to swing five wide at the quarter pole, she swept past the field straightening for home. Mushka covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.61 and returned $10.40.
Jockey John Velazquez told Mott that he was riding the filly early on, but she "was just going to do what she wanted," Mott said. "He was riding and all of a sudden she took off on her own."
Discovery: Now a Victor rebounds
Now a Victor, beaten a neck in the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth Park on Breeders' Cup Day, rebounded with a 1 1/4-length victory over Shopton Lane in the Grade 3, $109,900 Discovery Handicap.
Under Velazquez, Now a Victor stalked Shopton Lane through fractions of 25.08 seconds, 49.11, and 1:12.88 before taking over just outside the eighth pole. A large 3-year-old son of Yankee Victor, Now a Victor gradually edged clear of Shopton Lane, and covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.15. He returned $5.90 as the favorite. Shopton Lane, who suffered his first defeat of the year, held second by a neck over Dr. V's Magic, who had to alter course in the stretch.
Now a Victor is now 3 for 4 for Three Diamonds Farm and trainer Michael Trombetta.
"He's learning," Trombetta said. "He's gotten to this level pretty quick; he doesn't have it all quite figured out just yet. He went from a maiden special weight in Saratoga in to winning a Grade 3 in a handful of starts."