Edited NYRA Staff Release — Tom Albertrani, winning trainer of Astronaut (No. 4, $32): “I had him early on in his career before he went to California, and we always did like the horse back then. He always looked like a horse that had talent. He had some good races out in California and I think that one race off the layoff [in September at Del Mar] set him up for his last two.
“We were looking for the lead today. We stayed close last time and we thought we might be able to steal it on the lead today. Kendrick [Carmouche] did the right thing and made the right choice.
“This horse has been in great form. John [Shirreffs] did a great job bringing him over to the East Coast here and I just put the finishing touches on him. He’s been in good form and hopefully we keep him that way. Hopefully, we’ll move down to Tampa with him and be choosing between there and Gulfstream with him. We’ll see how he settles in when he gets there.”
Kendrick Carmouche, winning jockey aboard Astronaut (No. 4): “The horse ran an amazing race last time in the Grade 1 [Joe Hirsch Turf Classic]. This time, I wanted to put him into the race and see if they would let me walk the dog a little bit and when he came off the bit around the second turn, I knew I was a winner. I just had to make sure I was still going easy. Tom Albertrani and the owner spotted this horse right and they made us a winner.
“He’s a very funny horse with his mouth, so once you get him on the bit it’s hard to get him off of it. By the time the second turn came around, I dropped his head a little and he relaxed even better. Going into the backside, I knew it was to that point.”
Chad Brown, trainer of runner-up Highest Honors (No. 1) and fifth place finisher Balthus (No. 3): “He was second best today, but I thought he got a very good trip. I thought both horses got good trips. Balthus looked like maybe he didn’t handle the turf, he just didn’t fire today. Both horses I thought got great trips and great rides.
“I think both horses will go south for the winter. I’ll talk to each individual owner and see what they want to do and if they want to kick on to Gulfstream or just give them a break.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard runner-up Highest Honors (No. 1): “It was a perfect trip. They went an honest pace up front. They weren’t walking or anything up front. I was happy with where I was and he ran well.”
Winning margin: three lengths
Final time (11 furlongs): 2:14.00
Fractions: 24.81, 49.82, 1:14.98, 1:39.15, 2:02.55
Full order of finish: 4-1-12-2-3-10-6-5-9-8-7-11