Looking to regain winning form, Aruna settled in fourth as Aqsaam opened a double-digit lead through fractions of 47.34 and 1:13.22. When the leader started to come back to the field, Ramon Dominguez gave Aruna her cue, and she blew past the weary pacesetter and was never seriously threatened in the stretch by Hit It Rich, who gave vain chase in second.
Aruna, the 2-1 favorite, paid $6.10 for a $2 win wager and completed 1 3/8 miles over “good” turf in 2:15.47.
The Sheepshead Bay was the second 2012 start for Aruna, a Grade 1 winner who entered the race off a last-of-six performance in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on April 14 at Keeneland. She concluded her 2011 campaign with a fifth, beaten one length, in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in November.
“In her last two races we just tried taking her out of it too much in the Breeders’ Cup and Jenny Wiley,” said winning trainer H. Graham Motion. “She’s a much more settled filly this year; we don’t have to worry about [getting her to relax]. She’s every bit as good as she was last year – she’s just had two unlucky runs.”
Motion said Aruna’s next start most likely will come on July 28 in Saratoga Race Course’s Grade 1 Diana – in which she was second last year – or on August 18 in Arlington Park’s Grade 1 Beverly D.
Aruna, a 5-year-old Flaxman Stables homebred, is 7-3-1 in 15 starts and has earned $945,379. The Sheepshead Bay victory was worth $120,000 to her connections.
Principal Role received show honors, followed home by Aqsaam, Distorted Legacy, Woodford Belle, and Hasay. Mystical Star was third under the finish line but disqualified for prematurely breaking through the starting gate. Magical Cat, who was held in the gate by an assistant starter, was declared a non-starter. For a full stewards’ report on the Sheepshead Bay, click here.