In her last race, Rite Moment stumbled badly out of the gate as Aqueduct’s March 6 Limit Stakes got under way – but in spite of the bad break, she went on to win by an impressive 13 1/4 lengths. This time, the 4-year-old Vicar filly benefited from a clean start in Aqueduct’s $150,000 Distaff Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO
) March 22, wrapping up her fourth win from five starts over the inner track.
The Distaff win, the filly’s fourth from five starts for trainer Gary Contessa this year, was Rite Moment’s first graded score for Winning Move Stable and partners. It was also the first grade II win for jockey Rajiv Maragh.
“This filly… has exceeded my expectations,” Contessa said. “When she got here, she acted like she had some quality. She never bounces. She comes back on two or three weeks rest and runs the same race. She’s a big, strong filly; a half hour after we put her in the gate, she’ll have eaten eight quarts of grain. She eats like a colt, trains like a colt, and runs against fillies. It’s kind of cool.”
While Rite Moment got off to a great start and settled in fourth on the rail, potential pacesetter Quality Affair was not so fortunate. That one, breaking from post six, missed the break and never had a chance to duel with Your Flame in Me, who set the early lead through a half in :22.58 and :45.69. Beau Dare was second while Control System chased the pace three wide.
“I knew she would put me in the right position, being that I got the rail,” Maragh said. “I hoped to sit that pocket trip over this track.”
That’s exactly what Rite Moment did, moving up to second on the rail as they hit the stretch through five-eighths in :57.61. In close company with Beau Dare, it seemed as if she wouldn’t get out to chase down Your Flame in Me.
“Off the turn, I was trying to maneuver so I would have enough space to get out, and Chuckie (Lopez on Beau Dare) was intent on holding me in, so I just sat patiently,” said Maragh.
When Beau Dare tired, however, Maragh angled Rite Moment to the outside. They wore down the leader to win by a length in a final time of 1:09.86. Your Flame in Me was second, while Scatkey finished third. Control System, Beau Dare, and Quality Affair completed the order of finish.
Contessa said Rite Moment will now train toward the $150,000 Bed O’ Roses Stakes (gr. II), going seven furlongs on Aqueduct’s main track.
Rite Moment returned $7.30, $4.10, and $3.30. Your Flame in Me and jockey Mario Pino paid $7.60 and $5.30, while Scatkey brought $5.60 under Michael Luzzi.
Bred in Kentucky by Charles Nuckols Jr. and sons out of the Lost Code mare Moments of Joy, Rite Moment now has five wins and three seconds from eleven starts, with earnings of $244,242.