Finery, making her first start in more than five months, collared the favorite Changing World in the final strides to win the $112,800 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf at fog-shrouded Aqueduct Saturday.
The 5-year-old Lear Fan mare, ridden by Pablo Fragoso for trainer William Turner and owner/breeder Althea D. Richards, completed the 1 1/8-mile event for fillies and mares in 1:44 2/5. The race was contested on firm going in spite of earlier rain.
The Virginia-bred Finery, who won the Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Aqueduct turf Oct. 31, was overlooked at odds of more than 7-1. She last ran in the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 20 when finishing sixth on a yielding Churchill Downs turf course.
"This filly is very powerful," Turner said. "She's been a little slow to mature, but it seems like she's come around now. I thought she would be ready off the layoff. She was training very well."
Turner said he would look at several upcoming opportunities for Finery. Racing will shift to Belmont Park on May 4.
Positioned on the rail behind pacesetting Changing World and Fortunate Damsel while well in hand, Fragoso angled the bay Finery to the outside of Changing World with a furlong to go and she edged her way to the lead in deep stretch to win by a neck. Two-and-a-half lengths behind, the Irish-bred Asti nosed the late-running Fast Cookie for third in the field of nine.
Changing World, the Barclay Tagg-trained winner of the last fall's Violet Handicap (gr. IIIT) with a triple-digit Beyer figure, set a tepid pace of :24, :49 1/5 and 1:13 2/5 while digging in for a gritty stretch drive. She made up for a 11th-place finish in her last start, the Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park in her last start March 13.
"I didn't think she could get beat, but they beat her," Tagg said. "It was good to see her get back to herself. The course was a little too hard last time when she had some trouble in that race."
Finery notched her fifth win in 12 starts and her third victory in her last four trips to the post. She also has four runner-up finishes. The winner's share – $67,680 – increased the bay's career earnings to $268,000.
The Ack Ack mare Duds produced Finery.
She paid $17.60, $6 and $3.70. Changing World returned $3.80 and $3 while completing a $54 exacta. Asti, who was making her United States debut after beginning her career in France, was $3.40 to show for trainer H. Allen Jerkens.
After Fast Cookie, it was 1 3/4 lengths to Fortunate Damsel, followed by Sauvage, Savage Beauty, With Patience and Lady Libby.