Aqueduct Race Report: Pouring It On

Published in the Nov. 23 issue of The Blood-Horse
When it rains it pours. You'd think after surrendering two more Breeders' Cup turf races to the Europeans this year, including a fourth straight Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), the Americans would at least have these minor end-of-the-year turf races to themselves.

But the Europeans just keep coming. On Nov. 16, it rained and then it poured. When a nasty nor'easter blew in from the Atlantic, it brought with it the German filly, Uriah, who dropped out of the clouds in the final furlong to win the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIT).

German horses are used to running over bog-like ground, so it should have come as no surprise when Uriah unleashed her furious charge from last in the 11-horse field, just getting up at the wire to nose out Sunstone. The 3-year-old filly was bred in Germany, and is by German-bred sire Acatenango, out of the German-bred mare Ulanowa. In six prior career starts, she competed at six different tracks in Germany, with her two biggest wins coming over heavy ground.

It also should have come as no surprise when she showed up in the entries. Although most European horses have already been put to bed for the winter, Uriah is owned by Gary Tanaka, who is one of the most noted international wheelers and dealers of horseflesh, and whose horses can show up any place at any time. Tanaka purchased Uriah in October. After finishing third in the Deutsches St. Leger (Ger-II) against the colts, she captured the listed Frankfurter Stutenpreis der Mehl-Mulhens-Stiftung on Nov. 3.

The Long Island also drew the English invader, Sulk, winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac Criterium des Pouliches Royal Barriere (Fr-I) at Longchamp last fall for trainer John Gosden. This year, the daughter of Selkirk placed in the group I Vodaphone Nassau Stakes and Aston Upthorpe Yorkshire Oaks in England and the Prix Royal-Oak (Fr-I) against the boys at Longchamp. Heading the American fillies and mares were the Christophe Clement pair of Mot Juste, third in the Flower Bowl (gr. IT), and Moon Queen, a group II winner at Longchamp who hadn't run since winning Gulfstream's The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) back in February.

Uriah, who was dropping 14 pounds for the 1 1/2-mile Long Island, drew post 2, and saved ground early under Norberto Arroyo Jr. The pace over the soft ground was pedestrian, as 52-1 Forest Princess dawdled through fractions of :26.70, :53.50, 1:20.40, and 1:48.90 for the mile. As they moved around the far turn for the first time, Uriah dropped back to last, as Arroyo decided to let her settle after breaking a little slower than expected. She remained last until Arroyo brought her off the rail entering the far turn for the second time.

As they turned for home, Rhum, Sulk, Mot Juste, and Sunstone all had a chance, as they headed down the stretch lapped on each other. Uriah was rolling, but still a half-dozen lengths back. As they passed the eighth pole, the top four were still slugging it out, with heads separating them. It looked as if Arroyo could have eased Uriah out a few more yards for clear sailing on the outside. But he elected to charge right up behind the four-horse wall in front of him. He saw an opening between Rhum and Sulk and gunned Uriah for it. With a typical European burst of speed, Uriah shot through the opening and just stuck her nose in front of Sunstone at the wire. She covered the distance in 2:42.48, paying $18.60. Mot Juste held on for third over Sulk.

For Tanaka and trainer Harro Remmert, this was the second time they teamed up to win the Long Island, having taken the 2000 running with another 3-year-old, Moonlady.

"It is nice to have won this race twice, especially for the same owner," said Remmert's assistant, Maren Hennig. "I told Norberto that I would like to see the filly sitting third, fourth, or fifth. She was farther back, but she won, so, we're very happy. We might run in the La Prevoyante (gr. IIT) at Calder (on Dec. 28), but we would have to fly back to Germany and then down to Florida."

(Chart, Equibase)