Well-traveled Caught in the Rain rallied under jockey Richard Migliore to get a nostril in front in a three-nose win photo to take the $113,000 Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares Saturday on the Aqueduct turf at 1 1/16 mile.
Caught in the Rain, owned by Heiligbrodt Stable and Walter L. New, returned to Aqueduct for the second time in her career, caught a "soft" turf course and everyone napping. The 4-year-old Petionville filly rallied under Migliore's left-handed whipping to nip Lojo and Coney Kitty in 1:41.
"That was close," Migliore exclaimd after Caught in the Rain, 14-1, won her sixth in 15 career starts. "I thought I had the horse to the inside of me (Coney Kitty), but I wasn't about the horse along the fence (Lojo). I went out in search of better ground. We lost ground, but that was by design. I felt that I would find a better spot out there. I was just hoping I wouldn't run out of ground. It worked out well. The turf is very soft."
The soft turf actually worked against favored Something Ventured, who was forced to take over the lead early from Affirmed Dancer or risk losing ground from the 1-hole.
"She really doesn't like to be in that position. Unfortunately, she kind of landed there trying to secure position from the rail," said trainer Todd Pletcher, as Something Ventured set the tempo of :25; :51; and 1:16 2/5 before giving way to the rallying runners. "She likes to wait on horses, and she is better off with a target. She ran hard, and we'll bring her back at Gulfstream."
For winning trainer Guadalupe Preciado, the victory was a welcome one in the waning days of New York's turf season. It also avenged a fifth-place finish in the Violet Handicap (gr. IIIT) at The Meadowlands last month, in which the respective top three finishers were Dancal, Madeira Mist and Something Ventured. The victory was worth $67,800, pushing her career earnings to $303,851.
"She ran very well," Preciado said. "I didn't think she was going to get there in time."
Caught in the Rain has raced at Churchill Downs, The Fairgrounds, Delaware, Philadelphia and The Meadowlands since winning an allowance at Aqueduct more than a year ago. She followed that win with a 32-1 victory in the Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) on a yielding Churchill grass course Nov. 16.
She carried 112 pounds while paying $31.60, $15.20 and $10.40. Lojo, who led in deep stretch after making a bold move along the hedge for Shaun Bridgmohan, returned $6.60 and $5.40. Cony Kitty, who closed with a rush only to just miss under Javier Castellano, showed for $6.60. The $2 exacta was worth $188.
Brandala was fifth, followed by Madeira Mist, Affirmed Dancer and Lady Bi Bi.