Pacesetting Pommes Frites got her head down at the wire Saturday to defeat fast-closing Naissance Royale in the $112,300 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares, the last graded stakes of the Aqueduct meeting.
Owned by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Pommes Frites set fractions of :24 4/5, :49 4/5 and 1:13 4/5 and that slow early pace, with the portable rail out 18 feet on the firm turf course, made her a formidable foe in the stretch. The 5-2 favorite, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, covered the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43 under 115 pounds, a two-pound spot from the Irish-bred Naissance Royale and Kent Desormeaux.
It was the third straight victory and fourth in the last five starts for the 4-year-old Dynaformer
filly, who is trained by Bill Mott. She returned $7.20, $4.40, and $3.20.
"She could always run," Mott said of Pommes Frites, who has now won six of 12 starts with earnings of $212,646. "It has just taken a little maturity and seasoning to get her to this level. The pace scenario worked out very well for us today, and she was very game in the stretch. She's the kind of filly we can move around and find a spot for her anywhere."
Naissance Royale, coming off an allowance win on the Gulfstream Park grass for Christophe Clement March 27, returned $5.70 and $3.40.
It was only 1 3/4 lengths to third-place finisher Brunilda ($3.20), ridden by Javier Castellano. They were followed closely by Omeya, Asti, and the Mott-trained Angara in sixth.
Angara, winner of last year's Beverly D (gr. IT) at Arlington Park, made her first appearance since finishing seventh in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Oct. 29. She carried top weight of 122 pounds.
"I thought Angara was in great position," Mott said. "The slow pace didn't play into her style. I thought she might close a little better than she did. Softer ground and a little more distance might help her. We had to get her started, and this was a good spot to do it in."
Mott figures to run Angara back in Belmont Park's $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf May 27.
Little Buttercup and Laurafina trailed.
Half Heaven, No Sleep, and Samsincharge scratched.