Bending Strings Takes Off in First Flight

Favorite Bending Strings ran down Smokey Glacken in the stretch to win the $150,000 First Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares on Saturday at Aqueduct.

Bending Strings, who was ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, completed the 7-furlong event in 1:22. She paid $6, $3.10 and $2.30.

"The race really set up well for us," said Art Magnuson, the assistant for winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "Seven-eighths is perfect for her."

Smokey Glacken, under Joe Bravo, used the first quarter mile in :22 2/5 to slowly move up and pass early frontrunner Sensibly Chic, then set fractions of :44 3/5 and 1:09 1/5. In the stretch, Bending Strings, who stalked the early pace, had the momentum to take the lead and pull away for a 5 3/4-length victory.

"It is nice when it works out like that," Bridgmohan said. "The race set up the way we thought it would. Speed was good. She really kicked when I asked her to."

Bending Strings -- a 3-year-old dark bay Kentucky-bred filly by American Chance, out of Straight South (Hail the Pirates) -- earned $90,000 for owner-breeder John Gunther. She is now 5-4-0 from 14 starts with career earnings of $454,300. She has won three graded stakes races in 2004 including the Nassau Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Belmont Park on May 8 and the Safely Kept Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Pimlico on Oct. 2.

Smokey Glacken ($3.50, $2.50) finished second, 2 3/4 lengths in front of Passing Shot ($4.20), under Aaron Gryder, who was third.

Sensibly Chic, Schedule and Hidden Ransom followed.

(Chart, Equibase)