8-Year-Old Silver Tree Takes Fort Marcy
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Silver Tree glides to victory in the Fort Marcy (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct.
Peter Vegso’s resilient 8-year-old homebred Silver Tree returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since last August, stalking the pace and then pulling away in the stretch to win the $100,000 Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by 1 1/2 lengths April 27 on the Aqueduct turf.

A son of Hennessy, Silver Tree stayed on the heels of pacesetter Buddy’s Humor through modest fractions of :24.46, :49.45, and 1:13.23, then took the lead as they came out of the final turn and kicked clear in the final furlong under a patient ride from Edgar Prado. The Bill Mott trainee stopped the clock in 1:42.07 in the 1 1/16-mile contest on a turf labeled "firm."

Operation Red Dawn finished strongly along the rail to get second under Alan Garcia, three-quarters of a length in front of Twilight Meteor. Wood Be Willing was fourth in a field of seven older horses.

Silver Tree had been winless in two starts since beginning his 8-year-old campaign, finishing second in both the Feb. 14 Shotintheheart Stakes at Gulfstream Park and the April 5 Turf Classic Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The chestnut horse last won Aug. 5 in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga, a victory that capped off a three-race win streak. Mott gave him time off after finishing out of the money at Meadowlands last September.

In the Fort Marcy, Silver Tree was never far behind Buddy’s Humor, who was taken straight to the front by Ramon Dominguez. Twilight Meteor and Operation Red Dawn were a bit farther off the pace, while Pays to Dream, Barastraight, and Wood Be Willing were never a factor.

Coming three-wide out of the turn, Silver Tree made the front with ease, then extended his lead in upper stretch. He was unchallenged in the final furlong.

“He’s a nice, healthy horse, and he knows his way around the racetrack," Prado said. "Wherever he is, when you call for his run, he gives it to you.”

Bred in Florida, Silver Tree is out of the With Approval mare Blue Begum. He won for the 13th time in 38 lifetime starts, and garnered his fifth graded stakes score. He has earned nearly $1.6 million for Vegso.

Going off as the 2-1 favorite, Silver Tree paid $6.70, $3.90, and $2.80. The exacta (5-1) returned $27.60, while the trifecta (5-1-2) netted $69.

"He acts fresher than the 2-year-olds in the barn," said Mott's assistant, Leana Willaford. "We know him really well; we’ve had him since he was a 2-year-old himself. We’ll see how he comes out of this race and take it from there.”

(Chart, Equibase)

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