It was the final graded turf stakes of the year in New York, and it came down to a tale of two trips.
At that point, jockey Joel Rosario kicked Takaya Shimakawa's Si Que Es Buena into top gear along the rail, while Jose Ortiz had to swing outside of about eight fillies and mares at the top of the stretch with Peter Brant's My Sister Nat.
Guess who got to the wire first?
"She just put herself there and she was comfortable. We tried to save some ground, hopefully while having enough run at the end, and she did. She put in a nice run and came on really strong," Rosario said. "I tried to cut the corner. There wasn't much room, but the rail was a good spot, and she handled everything really well."
A 6-year-old daughter of Equal Stripes, Si Que Es Buena ($4.60) followed the shortest path to victory as she and Rosario rode the rail for a neck victory over My Sister Nat during a wild stretch run in the $408,000 Long Island. The top eight finishers were within 1 1/4 lengths of each other.
Rosario's savvy rail trip accounted for Si Que Es Buena's eighth win in 17 starts and her third in five tries since moving from Peru to trainer Graham Motion's barn in the United States.
She was fourth in last year's Long Island, beaten by a length, and then won a pair of winter stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Via Borghese Stakes and the La Prevoyante Stakes (G3T). Brought back in October, she was sixth in the E. P. Taylor Stakes (G1T) and used Saturday's race to close 2019 exactly as she started it—with a grade 3 win.
"I'm looking forward to the future and seeing what she's got," Rosario said of the mare, who finished in 2:19.68 as the 6-5 favorite.
My Sister Nat, who had a wall of horses in front of her turning for home, incurred a hard-luck loss in her U.S. stakes debut. The 4-year-old is a half sister to Brant's champion turf mare Sistercharlie.
"It was just the way the race set up. You don't want to take away her closing kick. Just get her into the clear and let her make her move. We were very pleased with the effort, being a sibling to Sistercharlie. It was great to see that explosion," said Dan Stupp, an assistant to trainer Chad Brown.
Video: Long Island S. (G3T)
By Acclamation out of the Galileo mare Starlet's Sister, My Sister Nat had two third-place finishes in her three U.S. starts for Brown at distances of no longer than 1 3/16 miles prior to the Long Island.
Glen Hill Farm's Decorating, a 4-year-old Galileo filly trained by Tom Proctor, set the early fractions of :51.05 and 1:17.56 on good turf and held on for third at 27-1 odds, just a half-length behind the winner.
Team Valor International's Pivotal Connection, a 5-year-old Pivotal mare trained by Bill Mott, was another neck back in fourth.
Fully Vested Prevails in Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship
Godolphin's Fully Vested used a strong three-wide rally turning for home and powered his way to a convincing 7 1/4-length victory in the $128,500 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship Stakes, the first of Saturday's three stakes at the Big A.
The favorite, Fully Vested ($5.10) broke quickly under Jose Lezcano, then stalked in third as Zayat Stables' Gidu set fractions of :22.80 and :46.09 while pressured by Big Hands Stables' Vici. Leaving the 3/16ths pole, the Darley-bred son of Discreet Cat swooped past the leaders and drew clear to cover the six furlongs in 1:09.49 on good turf.
Out of the Unbridled mare Trade Only, Fully Vested was coming off a third in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational Stakes and now has four wins in 14 starts with earnings of $316,369.