Everything went right for front-running Classic Endeavor, the former claimer who won Saturday's $112,100 Queen's County Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct for his fifth straight victory.
The 6-year-old Florida-bred son of Silver Buck held off slight favorite Evening Attire by three-quarters of a length, completing the 1 3/16-mile event, the first stakes race of the season on the Big A inner track, in 1:57 on a fast track.
Breaking from the rail for Aaron Gryder, the Rick Dutrow Jr.-trained Classic Endeavor soon took up the running from Admiralty Arch and led through a reasonable pace of :23 1/5, :47 4/5, 1:12 2/5 and 1:38 while maintaining a one length lead. Classic Endeavor got away from the field in the stretch to lead by three lengths and had enough to hold off Evening Attire.
"He was going at an easy clip," said Dutrow. "He was just galloping around there. Everything went his way, and he loves the inner track."
Evening Attire, the 2-1 choice broke sluggishly for Jose Espinoza in the nine-horse field and rallied from seventh in the stretch to make it close. Colita, well positioned behind the leader for Rafael Bejarano, could not close with the first two and settled for third by a nose over the late-charging Kissin Saint.
Zakocity, Hydrogen, Country Be Gold, Roaring Fever and Admiralty Arch followed. Private Lap scratched.
Classic Endavor won his first graded stakes in his last start – the Stuyvesant Handicap (gr. III) on the outer Aqueduct course last month – by 1 1/2 lengths in gate-to-wire fashion for his fourth in a row.
"I was initially thinking about skipping this race, but the way he won last time, which was so easy," Dutrow said. "If he didn't put his belly down, I figured he had another race in him. We got lucky today. Maybe we'll just sit and run in the Sunshine Millions next (at Gulfstream Park). That might be the best move for him. It would give him plenty of time. It's a million bucks, babe, we got to go for it."
Classic Endeavor has now won six of 16 career starts at Aqueduct, and three of seven on the inner dirt track. His record improved to 16-9-3 in 56 lifetime races and the $67,260 winning share Saturday pushed his earnings to $715,153. Sullivan Lane Stable and Vincent S. Scuderi claimed him from Scott Lake following a win in a $50,000 claiming race at Saratoga Aug. 1.
Evening Attire, making the 39th start of his career and 11th of the year, carried 123 pound and gave away six pounds to the winner. It was his sixth runner-up finish this year.
"Evening Attire tries hard every time and came with his good finish," said trainer Patrick Kelly.
Classic Endeavor paid $7.50, $3.90 and $2.80 as the close second choice of the public. Evening Attire returned $3.70 and $2.60. Colita, the third choice, was $2.70 to show.