Shortly after Bill Mott trainees Iftiraas and Dream Supreme won their respective stakes races Saturday at Churchill Downs, another of his charges led at every call to win the $112,900 Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct. Under Richard Migliore, Strategic Mission completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.62 on a firm turf course.
Strategic Mission was allowed to set moderate fractions under slight pressure from Gateman, then increased his lead to over three lengths in the stretch before holding off Pine Dance at the wire to win by one length. Legal Jousting finished third, two lengths behind Pine Dance. Slowhand, Gateman, Company Approval, Rumsonontheriver, Buddha's Delight, and Country Be Gold.
Sent off as the favorite in the nine-horse field, Strategic Mission returned $3.70, $2.80, and $2.30. Pine Dance completed the $26.20 exacta and paid $6.50 and $3.80. Legal Jousting was worth $2.80 to show.
The win is the first in a stakes race for 6-year-old Strategic Mission, who previously finished third in last months Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) and second – beaten by a neck – in last October's Keeneland Turf Mile (gr. IIT). Strategic Mission (Mr. Prospector -- Sultry Sun, by Buckfinder) is a Live Oak Plantation homebred who has now won six of 19 career starts. He earned $67,740 for the win.