Susan and John Moore's prohibitive favorite Smokey Glacken overcame an eventful race for regular jockey Javier Castellano to hold off a surging Magnolia Jackson by a head to win the $154,500 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares on the Aqueduct inner dirt track Saturday.
The multiple graded stakes-winning Smokey Glacken, usually best on the front end, stumbled coming away from the gate and raced in mid-pack while stuck on the outside for the duration of the six-furlong event. The 5-year-old Forestry
mare pulled ahead of pacesetting Flame of Love approaching the eighth pole and opened up a clear lead. But she didn't appreciate the whip as Castellano urged her home and failed to respond to his pressure until the final strides, preserving her third consecutive graded victory as the 1-2 choice in the field of six. The winning time was 1:10 2/5.
"She was the best horse in the race, no doubt about it," Castellano said. "She had a bad step out of the gate, but she recovered really quick. She's a game filly. She likes to compete with the other horses. When she saw the others coming at her, she took off again."
Magnolia Jackson, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, rallied strongly but ran out of room, angling out for the stretch run after a rail trip to edge Annika Lass and Channing Hill by a half-length for second. The latter overcame an awkward start and an early bump to finish gamely as well.
Maddalena lost all position early and finished well on the outside to be fourth, followed by second choice Great Intentions and Flame of Love, who carved fractions of :22 3/5 and :45 1/5 before giving way in the stretch. Sweet Sweet, part of a Barry Schwartz entry with Great Intentions, was scratched.
Smokey Glacken ($3, $2.40, $2.10), the 120-pound high weight, made her first start on the Aqueduct inner course for trainer James Jerkens. She was coming off back-to-back wins at Gulfstream Park in the First Lady (gr. III) and Hurricane Bertie (gr. III) handicaps. Her career mark is 10-3-2 in 18 starts with earnings of $652,460.
"She was getting late," said Jerkens of Smokey Glacken. "You always worry when you come to a track that is much slower. She's been running on super-fast tracks.
"She stumbled leaving there, which probably means the track was breaking up from underneath her. This track isn't nearly as tight as the track down there (Gulfstream). Whenever she doesn't show that real electrifying speed, you know it's the track, that it's a little cuppier than her liking."
In her graded stakes debut, the Gary Contessa-trained Magnolia Jackson, 3-for-3 on the inner dirt track, returned $4.50 and $2.80. Annika Lass, hailing from the Steve Asmussen barn, was $4.50 to show.