Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey made an ambitious move on Saturday afternoon when he ran Phipps Stable's homebred Boca Grande in Aqueduct's 85th running of the grade II, $200,000 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies at nine furlongs.
The A.P. Indy filly, third in her debut at Saratoga, had broken her maiden impressively at a mile at Belmont Park on October 18. But the Demoiselle presented her with a new distance and two turns.
But, under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Boca Grande took the inside path home and posted a 3 ¾-length victory to signal what may be the start of a big career and the first win in the Demoiselle for McGaughey.
Boca Grande displayed not only talent, but toughness in her Demoiselle victory.
Favored Successful Outlook opened a clear lead over Rivanna River to get the first quarter of a mile in :23.70 on the fast main track. The lead increased as the half-mile went in :47.06, but as they came into the far turn, the hard pace began to take its toll.
After three-quarters in 1:11 91, the favorite began to falter and Get Ready Bertie made the first challenge. Smith, who had been saving ground behind horses, momentarily considered taking his mount out for a clear run, but then drove her through a narrow hole on the rail and Boca Grande shot through for the win in 1:50.17.
"(Get Ready Bertie) was making a good move down the backside," Smith said. "There was room for her to go out. I just let them all go. I wasn't quite ready to move yet. My filly stays really game when she's down inside, which is good. Most two-year-olds, when they get down inside like that, tend to drop it. That was pretty much it. She's real nice and she'll go on."
Boca Grande returned $11.80, $6.70, and $3.40 and will head to Florida for the winter.
"There is a lot to look forward to," McGaughey said. "We stepped her up a little bit quick, but her maiden race was a good race. She's a mile and an eighth horse, and I thought maybe the favorite might not be a mile and an eighth horse because of the way she's bred. Our filly loves it down inside. She cut the corner, was there and got through there. She won pretty handy. She'll go to Gulfstream on Tuesday. We'll see what their program is down there and figure out something."
Get Ready Bertie was second and Successful Outlook salvaged third by a neck over Grace Happens.
"That's not where I wanted her to be," said Toby Sheet, assistant to Successful Outlook's trainer, Scott Blasi. "Those weren't the instructions. I'm not very pleased with that."
Added Garrett Gomez, the favorite's jockey: "She was a little headstrong going into the turn. I got her slowed down, then up the backstretch she was running real comfortable. At the three-eighths pole, it was just a matter of how far (she would win). When I turned for home, she just didn't go anywhere. She slowly dissipated on me and then I ran out of gas."
Super Natscha, Dutchess of Stanco, Miss Goodnight, Grand Merger and Rivanna River completed the order of finish.