Austin's Mom needed some time to be ready for the right opportunity, and Saturday afternoon, everything fell into place in the $109,600 Affectionately Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares at Aqueduct.
The 4-year-old Sefapiano filly flew wide through the lane in the final eighth of a mile to win the1 1/16-mile Affectionately by 5 1/2 lengths at odds of 11-1 for her first stakes victory. The Affectionately was scheduled to have been the first graded stakes race in New York in 2004 on Jan. 10, but arctic temperatures forced the race to be postponed until Saturday. Earlier on the card, Seattle Fitz won the $110,100 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III).The postponement aided Austin's Mom, who had shipped up from Delaware Park last month to campaign this winter at Aqueduct for trainer Allen Iwinski. "We were going to run her shortly after she came up here," said Iwinski's assistant, Brad Wallace. "I worked her one time, and she was pretty congested. I told Allen she was off her feed and I didn't think it was a good idea to run her. He said that was okay and we would make another stake. Allen loves slow works – everything I work is slow – and then let them run at the end." Austin's Mom certainly came running on Saturday, passing five horses in the stretch to win going away.
Golden Damsel set up the victory by getting out to a determined lead under Aaron Gryder. She accomplished her mission, getting the first quarter of a mile in :23 1/5 and the half in :47 4/5, with Queen's Triomphe rating behind.On the turn Cruise Along made a move on the leader, but could not get past. Austin's Mom, however, was in full stride and blew by the tiring leaders with an eighth of a mile to go. She won easily under jockey Pablo Fragoso in 1:44. "She is a nice filly to ride," Fragoso said of his first career stakes winner. "I did what the trainer told me to do. He said, `She likes to be off the pace, and she comes running at the end.' She really kicked in through the stretch." Golden Damsel lasted for second, with Consort Music third and Cruise Along fourth. Queen's Triomphe, favored Message Red, Dancen in the Sun and Green Jeans trailed.
"The outside post really hurt us today," said Javier Castellano, jockey of Message Red. "Going into the first turn, Golden Damsel kept everyone wide. I didn't want to go wide; I wanted to try to settle her down and cut the corner. She is a much better filly when she is closer to the pace. She was too far back today. "Austin's Mom recorded her third consecutive victory overall while earning $65,760 for owners Len Friedman, Jan Nilsen and Brom Keifetz. After going winless in eight starts at 2, she has won five times in 11 tries since turning 3. She improved her career winnings to $197,210. Seta's Farm in Kentucky bred the winner.Austin's Mom paid $25, $10.40 and $8.30. Golden Damsel returned $5.80 and $5.10. Consort Music's show was $17.40. The $2 exacta was worth $141 and the $2 trifecta returned $3,029.(Chart, Equibase)