Saturday, January 29, 2011

Aegean Sprints To Sunshine Victory

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Steven Michael Bell’s Aegean, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly, took the lead down the stretch and held off a late rally by Jessica Is Back to win the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint by a nose.

Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.61. Feel That Fire finished third. Favored Amen Hallelujah finished fifth. Aegean returned $20.20 to win.

A daughter of Northern Fleet, Aegean pressed fractions of :22.29 and :45.03 before taking the lead at the head of the stretch. Despite a late rally from Jessica Is Back along the rail, Aegean would not be denied her fifth victory in 13 starts. A winner of the Deam Supreme Stakes Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs, Aegean finished fifth last time out Dec. 11 across the turf in the Lightning City Stakes.

Trainer Wesley Ward (Aegean): “She was very good in her first two races in Kentucky (2009). It took a long, long time to get her back on her best game after the trip to England, but she started to get going good last fall winning the race at Churchill Downs on Breeders’ Cup weekend (Dream Supreme Stakes on Nov. 6). Then I wanted to try her on turf again and the timing of the race at Tampa Bay (2nd in Lightning City Stakes on Dec. 11) was perfect. I was ready to throw out her race at Ascot on (9th in Albany Stakes on turf) because she was pretty nervous over there. The goal this year will be the (Breeders’ Cup) Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill. I want to space her races out pretty good from here, so I don’t have anything picked out just yet.”

Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez (Aegean): “I wanted to ride her just like Joel Rosario did in Kentucky. The plan was to let the speed go and take a hold of her and sit about a length off the pace. She waited a little bit on the other horses in the stretch, but when I hit her with the whip left-handed she really took off.”

Jockey Julien Leparoux (Amen Hallelujah): “I actually great trip. At the quarter pole I was right where I wanted to be. When I asked her she just didn’t have it at all. I think maybe more distance would be better. She hadn’t run since June so maybe she needed the race.”

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