On a dirt track that so far was favoring late runners, Bobby Flay’s Super Espresso circled foes on the far turn and fought gamely with second choice Payton d'Oro to win the 1 1/16-mile stakes by a three-quarters of a length. Fractions on a fast track were :23.19 for the opening quarter-mile, :46.09 for the half-mile, 1:10.64 for six furlongs, and 1:36.29 for one mile (VIDEO).
Final time was 1:42.85, about two seconds off the Pimlico record for the distance.
Payton d’Oro used a rail-skimming journey from just off the pace to take the lead in the lane but failed to hold on after drifting out in a stretch-long duel and finished second. Life At Ten, who also stalked pacesetters Lily Quatorze and Decelerator through the quick pace, loomed large on the far turn but flattened out to finish third, 8 1/2 lengths behind Payton D'oro.
Ramon Dominguez picked up the mount on Super Espresso with John Velazquez riding Life At Ten for Pletcher. Super Espresso posted her first graded win.
"She’s got a beautiful long stride on her and I just kept her together," Dominguez said. "They went quick enough early on where it was helpful, but she just continued coming. I don’t feel like they were really collapsing in front of her. She was closing."
Super Espresso, off at 11-1 in a five-horse field of fillies and mares, won the Sky Beauty Stakes at Aqueduct in February and finished third in the Am Capable Stakes at the same track in March. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Medaglia d'Oro out of the Forty Niner mare Amizette sported excellent dirt form but was facing a class test in the Allaire du Pont.
In her previous race, the Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) on yielding turf at Keeneland, Super Espresso offered only brief speed before faltering to finish last; she was eased and walked off the course. Her two other turf starts, however, were lackluster.
“I was very, very pleased and a little disappointed the way the other one (Life At Ten) ran," Pletcher said. "If you take out her last race on turf, she’s been a steadily improving filly. She trained well leading up to this, so we’re not shocked that she ran well.”
As for his grade I winner Life At Ten, Pletcher said: “I didn’t see much excuse. I’m just hoping she needs a race or two to round back into form. It was obviously a little disappointing.”
Super Espresso was bred by Liberation Farm and Stonewall Farm. The dark bay/brown filly improved her career mark to 4-1-3 in 12 starts with earnings of $185,360 with the winning share of $60,000.
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, the paid $24.60, $8 and $3.40 and keyed an $88.40 exacta. Payton d'Oro returned $4.20 and $2.60. Life At Ten was $2.20 to show.
Late-running Check Point passed tired foes to get fourth. She was followed by Decelerator and Lily Quatorze.