By Karen M. Johnson
Bustin Stones ran his undefeated record to six in the $300,000 Carter Handicap (gr.I) at Aqueduct April 5 by defeating Executive Fleet by a half-length.
Bustin Stones capped a huge day at Aqueduct for trainer Bruce Levine, who also won the Excelsior Handicap (gr.III) with Temporary Saint, and for jockey Edgar Prado, who won the Wood Memorial (gr.I) aboard Tale of Ekati.
The Carter win is Levine’s first in a Grade I.
A 4-year-old New York-bred son of City Zip, Bustin Stones was extremely game in victory. The Carter winner, who set the pace, was dogged every step of the way by Executive Fleet. The fractions were legitimate -- :22.52, 45.14, and 1:09.53 – over a track labeled fast.
Spring at Last, the 6-5 favorite and 121-pound highweight, was never a factor and disappointed with his eighth-place finish in the field of nine.
Premium Wine came with good energy in the stretch to check in third in the seven-furlong Carter, a neck behind Executive Fleet.
Bustin Stones carried 116 pounds and covered the distance in 1:22.91. Running as the 5-2 second choice, Bustin Stones returned $7.50, $4.70, and $3.80. The exacta with Executive Fleet paid $58.
Owned and bred by Roddy Valente, Bustin Stones won the General George (gr. II) at Laurel Park in his start prior to the Carter.
Last year, Bustin Stones underwent double knee surgery. The surgery came after he won his first three starts in restricted company. In his return to the races in January, Bustin Stones won the Promonroe Stakes at Aqueduct, and then the General George.
“He’s a very nice horse,” Levine said. “He’s been in battles before and he is as game as game can be. He runs everywhere and he likes this track. Here, he beat a quality field, especially with Spring at Last in the race. He had his problems. He had knee surgery; obviously, it hasn’t affected him. He’s come back to win three stakes in a row.”
Prado, who was making his 2008 New York riding debut, said, “It’s been a super day. It’s a good way to let everyone know that I am back in New York. My horse ran great, and broke running out of the gate. He never gave up and tried hard all the way. I was just very proud of him. Speed has been holding pretty well, and that was to our advantage. He just did everything so easily.”
Levine said he will point Bustin Stones to the Metropolitan Mile Handicap (gr.I) at Belmont Park May 26.
The Carter win boosted Bustin Stones’ earnings to $480,150.