Fox Ridge Farm's Naughty New Yorker, allowed to set a leisurely pace under Jean-Luc Samyn, drew away from favored Angliana at the eighth pole to win the $147,000 Red Smith Handicap, which was moved from the turf to dirt at Aqueduct Saturday.
With the surface switch, the full field scratched down to five horses, three of them entered for the main track only. There were 11 scratches in the Red Smith, a grade II event that was dropped to grade III pending a final decision by the American Graded Stakes Committee.
John Passero, director of racing surfaces for the New York Racing Association, said the decision to move the race to the main track was prompted by severe rains earlier in the week that accounted for very soft and unsafe parts on the turf course's backside. Weather permitting, the turf course will likely be back in use next week.
The race, contested on a fast and moist main track, was shortened in distance from 11 furlongs to 10. The final time was 2:04 2/5.
Naughty New Yorker, entered for the main track only by trainer Patrick Kelly, took command shortly after the start, opening a two-length lead heading into the clubhouse turn. The 4-year-old New York-bred continued to show the way in spite of glacial fractions of :26, :51 4/5 and 1:16 2/5. Fernando Jara, aboard the 8-5 choice Angliana, made a couple of runs at the leader but each time Naughty New Yorker spurted away. At the furlong pole, Naughty New Yorker left Angliana behind to record a 1 3/4-length victory. Crown Point, Jose Espinoza aboard, took third.
Samyn was the regular rider of Naughty New Yorker before losing the mount when he was injured at Saratoga in August.
"I'm just happy to be reunited with my big horse and on top of that be back in the winner's circle," Samyn said. "He's got plenty of speed and in the first sixteenth, he takes his time, but then after that he goes."
Naughty New Yorker, a bay colt by Quiet American
--Naughty Natisha (Known Fact), collected his third win in seven starts in 2006 while making his first start at the 1 1/4-mile distance. His other victories this year came in New York-bred stakes. The last time Naughty New Yorker faced open company, he finished ninth, 13 1/2 lengths behind Premium Tap, in Saratoga's Woodward (gr. I) Sept. 2.
"He was running easy today and not fighting," Kelly noted. "It's nice to win an open stakes. Hopefully, he'll keep going for a while and win some more."
Overall, Naughty New Yorker improved to 7-5-5 in 27 starts with earnings of $608,802.
Dr. William B. Wilmot and Dr. Joan M. Taylor bred Naughty New Yorker, who was sold for $145,000 at Ocala in March 2004.
Sent off as the second choice, the winner paid $5.90, $3.10 and $2.50. Angliana, coming off back-to-back wins over optional allowance/claiming fields, returned $2.80 and $2.20. Crown Point was $2.70 to show.
Chilly Rooster and Request for Parole trailed throughout.