Carol Nyren’s Dry Martini, a two-time graded stakes winner last season, broke into the 2008 win column in a big way Nov. 15, as the 5-year-old went from last-to-first en route to a convincing 3 1/4-length victory in the $110,500 Stuyvesant Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) in the slop at Aqueduct.
Ridden patiently by Channing Hill, Dry Martini trailed the field for six furlongs, made his winning four-wide move coming out of the far turn, and took over at the top of the stretch. The gray gelding easily drew clear of his tiring rivals and was taken in hand while approaching the wire. His final time for 1 1/8 miles in the mud was 1:51.18.
Stud Muffin, also near the back of the pack for most of the way, rallied to finish a clear second under Alan Garcia after making a big move coming off the turn. Pacesetter Temporary Saint held for third by a nose over Ravel.
Dry Martini returned to the main track for trainer Billy Turner Jr. after making his last two starts on turf, the most recent one a fifth-place effort in the grade III Knickerbocker Handicap at Belmont Oct. 25. The son of Slew Gin Fizz had been winless in four starts this season. His performances had been a stark difference from 2007 when he captured three of six starts, including the Memorial Day Handicap (gr. III) at Calder Race Course and the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. II).
“I’m very pleased,” Turner said. “This horse has been coming along steadily. The last race on the grass, well, he just got a little too far out of it. The race set up just as we had hoped. He had to make up ground, quite a bit of ground, but the jockey was easing up on him at the wire. ”
Temporary Saint carried the field of six through reasonable splits of :24.16, :47.43, and 1:11.42 for six furlongs, with Brilliant Son right on his heels most of the way. Solar Flare and Ravel were also close up through the backstretch, with a large gap to Stud Muffin and Dry Martini.
Stuf Muffin was the first to make an assault on the leaders, as he made a sweeping four-wide move around the turn and briefly took over a tiring Temporary Saint. But Dry Martini was right behind Stud Muffin, and after striking the front when nearing the eighth-pole, he left the others in his rearview mirror.
“The race set up perfect for us,” Hill said. “The horse really showed up today. I have to give credit to Mr. Turner and the owners. He was a little unlucky lately; he was second to that good Godolphin horse (Formal Decree, in the Knickerbocker). He really ran his race today.”
Bred in Florida by Carol and Marty Hershe, Dry Martini is out of the Criminal Type mare Jon’s Kimberly. He is now 7-4-2 from 20 lifetime starts, with earnings of $552,172.
Sent off as the third choice, Dry Martini paid $10.20, $4.70, and $3.20. The exacta (8-2) returned $48.60, with the trifecta (8-2-7) netting $153.50.