The 4-year-old filly’s victory in the turf allowance was hardly unexpected considering her 6-5 favoritism, but it was the way she won that caught everyone off guard. After launching her very promising career with a pair of deep-closing triumphs, the daughter of Dynaformer went right to the lead in the 1 7/16-mile route. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained filly set the pace into the stretch before being headed in mid-stretch, only to fight back to win by a half-length.
Shadwell Stable’s Aqsaam will return in Saturday’s $150,000 Orchid (G3), a 1 ½-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares.
“It’s a step up obviously from an allowance race to a graded stakes, but we know she can get the distance,” McLaughlin said.
Considering that Aqsaam will be meeting much tougher competition in the Orchid, her trainer doesn’t think his filly can afford to duplicate the running style she employed last time out.
“We’d prefer to keep her covered up and not have her on the lead like she was the last time,” McLaughlin said. “Hopefully, we can keep her covered up and have her run like she did the first two times.”
Aqsaam debuted at Saratoga last September in a seven-furlong race taken off the turf and run on a sloppy track. The Kentucky-bred filly broke very slowly from her rail post position to trail the 10-horse field for a half-mile before surging late to graduate by a nose. She returned to action at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 8, when she raced far back after early crowding before again making an impressive late run to win going away by nearly two lengths.