Toby's Corner splashes home in the Whirlaway.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Toby's Corner splashes home in the Whirlaway.
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Coglianese Photos

Toby's Corner Overcomes Mud to Win Whirlaway

Diane Cotter's homebred captures stakes debut for his third straight win.

Toby's Corner, in his stakes debut for trainer Graham Motion, collared J J's Lucky Train in the final furlong and drew off to a two-length win in the $98,000 Whirlaway Stakes on the inner track at rainy Aqueduct Feb. 5 (VIDEO).

Diane Cotter's Florida-homebred son of 2005 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) winner Bellamy Road  out of the Mister Frisky mare Brandon's Ride rallied from last in the field of five 3-year-olds under miserable conditions. He prevailed in the 1 1/16-mile event in a time of 1:45.66 over a sealed muddy track and has now won three races in a row.

The Whirlaway is part of Aqueduct's road to the Kentuckjy Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), to be followed by the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles March 5 and the 1 1/8-mile Wood April 9.

Toby's Corner broke best from the inside post for jockey Eddie Castro but dropped back as 17-10 favorite J J's Lucky Train outfought Preachintothedevil for the early lead and carved fractions of :23.53, :48.80 and 1:14.03. J J's Lucky Train, ridden by Jose Ferrer, came under pressure from Rescind the Trade and others with three furlongs to run but battled on gamely while under urging before drifting out near mid-stretch. Toby's Corner, angled toward the middle of the track by Castro, drew even with the favorite on the outside and took control late.

“I tried to relax the horse first thing, and he had a nice kick," Castro said. "I think he’s a nice horse, and I think he’ll go the distance, too.”

J J's Lucky Train was a clear second by 3 3/4 lengths over Preachintothedevil and Jose Alvarado. Arthur's Tale and Rescind the Trade, the 9-5 second choice, trailed. Norman Asbjornson was a veterinarian's scratch after becoming unruly in the gate and Sky Music was an earlier scratch.

This was the second win in as many races in 2011 for Toby's Corner, who captured a one-mile optional claiming test by 1 1/4 lengths at Laurel Jan. 12. The chestnut colt broke his maiden by 10 3/4 lengths in his second start, also at Laurel going one mile, in November. He earned $60,000 for the Whirlaway win and has now banked $97,240.

“It was a closely matched group of horses. I was a little concerned about how he would handle the sloppy track, but he did well," said Adrian Rolls, Motion's assistant. "We’ll see how he comes out of this before looking ahead to his next race.”

Sent off as the fourth choice, Toby's Corner paid $11.60, $4.70 and $3.20 and topped a $33 exacta. J J's Lucky Train, second in Aqueduct's Count Fleet Stakes Jan. 1, raced without blinkers for the first time in his six-race career for trainer William Anderson and returned $3.30 and $2.50. New York-bred Preachintothedevil, a state-bred stakes winner in his prior start for trainer Gary Contessa, was $3 to show.