By Brian Bohl/Heather Pettinger —-
Rymska rallies from last for Winter Memories score
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Head of Plain Partners and David Jacobson’s Stallwalkin’ Dude overtook Ready for Rye in the stretch and fended off Threefiveindia’s challenge to win the 104th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight for 3-year-olds and up Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The veteran Stallwalkin’ Dude, who made his 59th career start, stayed off Green Gratto’s early fractions of a quarter-mile in 22.21 seconds with the half going in 45.84. Out of the turn, the 7-year-old son of City Place, who was carrying the highweight of 134 pounds, rallied under a hand-ride by jockey Joel Rosario, overtaking Ready for Rye from the outside and completing six furlongs in 1:11.11 on the main track, winning by 1 ¾ lengths.
“It shaped up perfect,” said Jacobson, who owns and trains Stallwalkin’ Dude and won the Fall Highweight for the second time after saddling Salutos Amigos in 2014. “He came from off the pace. Had a little bit of trouble. There was nowhere to go. It’s the problem you have with a horse like Stallwalkin’ Dude and they tried to block him and make it hard for him, but he overcame it. And he got through and he won the race.
“He is never too far back. He has so much in the stretch it doesn’t matter where he is. I am never worried. A while ago I use to get worried, but I am over it.”
Stallwalkin’ Dude finished in the money for the fourth time in his last five starts and won for the 20th time overall. The even-money favorite paid $4.20 on a $2 win wager, upping his career bankroll to $1,688,852.
“He broke really well and I just left him where he was happy and he was happy back there,” Rosario said. “It looked like they got away a little from me, but that’s kind of his style. He looks like he wants to be relaxed and then make a run”
Stallwalkin’ Dude built on an impressive second-place effort in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler last out on October 29 and has placed in his last three starts, all against graded stakes competition, including a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Vosburgh on September 30 on Belmont’s Big Sandy.
“As far as I am concerned, he is as good, if not better than he has ever been,” Jacobson said. “His last three races were some of his premier performances. Obviously, today he won, so it’s more exciting, even though the last two races were excellent.”
Threefiveindia, carrying 130 pounds, edged Life in Shambles by a neck for second, giving the Chad Brown trainee his best graded stakes effort since running second in the 2016 Grade 3 Bold Ruler.
Ready for Rye, Great Stuff, Green Gratto and Hey Jabber Jaw completed the order of finish. Schivarelli and Seymourdini were scratched.
One race earlier, the Brown-trained Rymska nabbed her third straight stakes win with a flying victory in the $150,000 Winter Memories for sophomore fillies on the inner turf.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., the French-bred filly by La Havre settled at the back of the pack early as longshot Lucky Long took the field of nine through early fractions of 24.68 and 50.97. Six furlongs went in 1:15.99 as Ortiz guided Rymska along the outside, picking off rivals through the far turn Dancing Breeze overtook the pacesetter at the top of the stretch but proved no match for Rymska, who closed with a flourish to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Thais won the photo for third, finishing a nose ahead of Taperge in fourth.
The final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:45.48. Rymska returned $7.20 as the slight 5-2 favorite over Thais.
“I just followed instructions. [Chad Brown] told me to break out of there, get her comfortable and save some ground and take it in the stretch,” said Ortiz. “The track wasn’t too fast. She was there for me when I asked.”
Owned in partnership by Sheep Pond Partners, Alain Jathiere, Thomas Coleman, and Elayne Herrick, Rymska recorded her third stakes win of 2017 in a sporadic 3-year-old campaign. She returned from a nine-month layoff on September 30 to post a three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks at Laurel Park. In her only other start of the year, Rymska won the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant in February at Gulfstream Park.
Rymska improved her record to 5-1-1 from eight career starts for earnings of $359,394.
Lucky Long, Well Humored, Party Boat, Heavenly Score, and Last Promise Kept completed the order of finish. Lift Up and I’m Betty G were scratched, as were main track-only entrants Bonita Bianca, Divine Miss Grey, Land Mine.