By Karen M. Johnson
In dramatic fashion, Stage Luck came with a late surge to outfinish pacesetter Aliysa for a neck win in the $82,200 Affectionately Handicap Jan. 12 at Aqueduct.
Stage Luck, the 2-1 favorite ridden by Stewart Elliott, was never far off the early pace, while saving ground on the rail in third down the backstretch. The winner, making her stakes debut, appeared to be beaten at the eighth pole, when she was three lengths behind leaders Aliysa and Lucky Revival, in the 1 1/16-mile race fillies and mares.
Aliysa shook clear from Lucky Revival in deep stretch, and looked like she was on her way to victory, but Stage Luck switched into high gear.
“She kept digging in,” Elliott said in an understatement.
Andy Rehm, the assistant to Stage Luck’s trainer, Tom Albertrani, said, “At the quarter pole, I thought we would be fourth. (Elliott) said she was one-paced, and it took awhile to get her going.”
Baby Bird finished third, a neck behind Aliysa. It was another 1 ¼ lengths back to Homerette for fourth in the eight-horse field. Lucky Revival, Runaway Rosie, Victory Pool, and Dinner Break completed the order of finish.
The winner’s final time was 1:44.73 over a fast track. Aliysa set fractions of :23.51; :48.16; and 1:12.43, on her way to defeat.
Stage Luck is a 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song, who was purchased by her owner, Darley Stable, for $1.6 million as a yearling at auction. The filly didn’t make it to the races until last year and was only making her fourth career start in the Affectionately. Albertrani said ankle chips kept Stage Luck, who was bred by Aaron and Marie Jones, away from the races until her 3-year-old season.
“It’s a big win for her,” Rehm said. “This is what we were looking for; it was our main goal to get black-type in a stakes race.”
Stage Luck paid $6.10, $3.80, $3.30. The exacta (2-1) with Aliysa was worth $22.40. Stage Luck now has a record of 3-0-1 in four starts, with earnings of $111,320.