With Ability led from wire to wire for a 5 1/4-length victory in Friday's 28th running of the $108,600 Next Move Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares 3 years and older at Aqueduct.
For the third time in its last five renewals, trainer Mark Hennig sent out the winner of the Next Move. Hennig saddled Panama Canal for victory in 1998 and followed with Diggins in 1999. Panama Canal and With Ability both ran in the colors of owner-breeder Edward P. Evans.
Carrying 113 pounds including Javier Castellano, and coupled in the wagering with Unrestrained, With Ability covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.88 on the fast track to earn $65,160. Irving's Baby finished second, two lengths ahead of Diversa. 8-5 favorite Transcendental finished after trailing the field throughout the early going. Pocus Hocus, Unrestrained, and Zonk completed the order of finish.
"My filly is so quick from the gate. I wasn't going to try to take her back and rate," said Castellano. "With Unrestrained in the race, I wanted to ensure an honest pace. As it turned out, we were alone on the lead. Some of the other riders must have thought we were going fast, but we really weren't. I really appreciate Mark Hennig giving me the opportunity to ride this filly back."
The win marks the 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy's fifth in 11 career starts and first in a stakes race since June of her juvenile season. Since attempting a two-turn race for the first time in February, With Ability has begun to fulfil the promise of her 2-year-old season, winning two of three subsequent starts.
"We were going to retire her, but then we decided we should try her around two turns before we did," said Hennig. "She had a rough year last year. She has vision problems and she spent a lot of time last year with a needle in her eye. Seth (assistant Seth Gregory) has really done a great job with her this winter. I don't know where we're going next. We'll sit down and take some time to think about it."
The winning entry returned $9.50, $4.40 and $2.90. Irving's Baby paid $5.20 and $3.90, and Diversa was $5.40.
With Ability is out of two-time grade II-winning Mr. Prospector mare Withallprobability, who produced Probable Colony (by Pleasant Colony), dam of La Canada Stakes (gr. II) winner Summer Colony. (Chart, Equibase