Favorites swept the New York Stallion Series stakes Nov. 14 at Aqueduct as Sportswriter took the $100,000 Thunder Rumble and Sunny Desert overcame a troubled start to win the $100,000 Staten Island for fillies and mares.
Sportswriter, who in August won an NYSS race on the turf at Saratoga, was kept in the clear by Javier Castellano as he raced in fourth behind an opening quarter-mile in 23.36 seconds, made a four-wide run to engage the leaders through a half in 47.16, led into the stretch, and resisted a late challenge from Anaphylaxis to win by three-quarters of a length (VIDEO).
"I wanted to time it just right and not move too soon," said Castellano. "When I asked him, he responded so well. Today, it worked out perfect for him."
The final time for seven furlongs was 1:24.22, with Sportswriter paying $2.40 to win as the 1-5 favorite.
Sportswriter, sixth in the Groovy overnight stakes on the turf at Belmont Park in September and fourth in Belmont’s Hudson for New York-breds on Oct. 20, is now 5-3-1 in 16 lifetime starts and has earned $283,684, including $60,000 for his Thunder Rumble victory. The 3-year-old gelded son of Mabry’s Boy is owned by Michael Dubb and Michael Imperio, who bought him for $60,000 at auction last December from Flying Zee Stables.
"He’s been very good since we got him, and he’s always trained very, very good," said trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "We got very lucky to buy him. He’s as solid as they come and tries every time. If they go easy on the lead, he can be on the lead, or he can stay behind. This was a good race for him, and he got the job done."
Anaphylaxis finished a neck ahead of third-place finisher Maggie's Hadder, who in turn was a neck in front of Game Token. Frisky Warrior, Keltic Fighter, and Dave's Shadow completed the order of finish.
Sunny Desert ran her winning streak to five with a 2 3/4-length triumph in the Staten Island, also contested at seven furlongs (VIDEO).
Sandwiched at the start by Haldane and Mah Jong Maddnes, Sunny Desert was content to race in fourth through fractions of 23.39 and 47.01, circled the field to offer her bid, and out-kicked Lady On the Run in the final furlong.
"I got squeezed between the two horses next to me [at the start] and she was a little bit further back than I thought she’d be, but she was much the best," said winning jockey Ramon Dominguez. "It’s hard to say what her best distance is; I tried to get her going a little earlier, coming off a mile race. But once she gets in gear, she’s all business."
All five of Sunny Desert’s wins have come during the streak, which began in March when she broke her maiden by 15 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct in her sixth start. Since then, she has added wins in the NYSS Park Avenue in May at Belmont, an optional claimer in July at Saratoga, and Belmont’s Judy Soda overnight night stakes on Sept. 14.
"She’s shown that she’s versatile," said John Parisella, who trains Sunny Desert for Saul and Max Kupferberg. "You don’t like [troubled starts], but nothing stops her right now. She’s special. You don’t have many fillies like that. They have that one style, and everything has to come up right. That’s what makes her special; things don’t have to come up right."
Sunny Desert, a 3-year-old who has earned $266,750, is by Wild Desert. Jitney was third, followed home by Haldane and Mah Jong Maddnes.