Darley Stable’s homebred Criticism, just missing in her U.S. debut last month, left no doubt about her winning intentions in her second American start, as the 4-year-old filly took over in upper stretch and pulled away for a one-length victory in the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) Nov. 1 on the Aqueduct turf.
Ridden patiently by Javier Castellano, Criticism raced mid-pack for much of the 1 1/2-mile contest, move into striking position nearing the quarter-pole and easily passed pacesetter Sunshine for Life inside the final furlong. After drawing clear in the mid-stretch, the daughter of Machiavellian had to hold off a mild bid by J’ray in the final yards.
The final time was 2:29.76 on a "firm" turf course. Multiple graded stakes winner J’ray settled for second under Joe Bravo, 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Astrologie, who also closed well. Sunshine for Life was fourth in a field of nine fillies and mares.
Under the handling of Channing Hill, Sunshine for Life was allowed to get away with pedestrian-like fractions as she held the lead for more than a mile. Sunshine for Life clicked off splits of :25.88, :51.23, 1:15.69 and 1:41.19 for eight furlongs, while Sentimental Union and La Hernanda stalked the pace. Criticism and Marzelline were never far behind.
Criticism was keen during much of the early going, but Castellano did well to help her save ground. She made her winning three-wide move coming off the far turn, collared the longtime leader with a furlong to go and sprinted away for her first graded stakes score.
“I realized that the pace was slow and it was a long trip,” Castellano said. “I rode her in the French style – covered up – and put her right behind horses. Behind the three-eighths pole and the quarter-pole, when I found a spot, she gave me a good kick. I had a perfect trip.”
Bred in England, Criticism won four of 12 starts in France in 2007 while being trained by Henri-Alex Pantall. She finished third in the Prix Andre Baboin-Grand Prix des Provinces (Fr-III) a year ago in her only group stakes effort.
The bay filly was shipped to the states earlier this season and moved into the barn of Tom Albertrani. She finished runner-up in the 1 1/16-mile Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT), beaten only a half-length by Sunshine for Life, in her American debut Oct. 11 at Belmont. Apparently, she relished the extra ground.
“She definitely improved off her last race,” Albertrani said. “She had been off for 10 months, and we tried to get a race earlier than (the Athenia). But she ran exactly the way I was hoping to see. It all worked out beautifully. We knew there was not a whole lot of speed, and I told Javier to let her fall out of there and not do anything. He said that once she got behind horses, she settled in well.
“We’ll ship her to Florida and try to work out a schedule.”
Criticism, who is out of the Caerleon mare Innuendo, has now produced a 5-5-2 record from 14 lifetime starts and has earned $295,367.
Sent off as the second choice, Criticism paid $10.40, $5.60 and $3.20. The exacta (5-7) returned $67.50, while the trifecta (5-7-1) netted $174.50.
Hostess finished fifth, followed by Shake the Moon, Marzelline, La Hernanda and Sentimental Union.