OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Classic Point won the bob and the money in the Grade 3, $300,000 Go For Wand Handicap on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack in a desperate finish over 2-1 favorite Princess Violet.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens for Joseph Shields, Jr., Classic Point broke best under Angel Arroyo, but conceded the early advantage to Sweet Whiskey, who led the field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.84 seconds over a main track labeled "muddy". The 5-year-old mare stayed glued to Sweet Whiskey through a half in 47.42, and struck the front as the field entered the stretch.
As Classic Point began to edge away in mid-stretch, 3-year-old filly Princess Violet emerged from the pack with a strong run, and appeared to gain a narrow advantage over her older rival in the shadow of the wire, but Classic Point got her nose down first.
"I got a little nervous; she was acting up in the gate and she broke a little slow," said Jerkens. "She's got a big cruising speed and Angel did a good job of getting her up in there, but not getting into a head and head battle. After I saw the first quarter-mile, that she was laying where she was, that's just galloping for her. She's a big, rangy mare and it was like a gallop for her to go that slow the first part. That was the whole ticket to even the race out. At first, I thought the other filly got to her and might have gotten her head down, but then I watched it again and thought we did."
Classic Point entered the Go For Wand off a score in the seven-furlong Punkin Pie at Belmont Park in her first start equipped with blinkers, and third start with Jerkens. Previously, she had been trained by Jerkens' father, Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens.
"I don't know if it was just the blinkers; I think it's usually a combination of things that makes them win," said Jerkens. "She's just gotten bigger and stronger since Saratoga. Her last race was great and she got some confidence back."
Classic Point completed the one-mile in distance in 1:37.78, and returned $18.40 on a $2 win wager. Her career bankroll now stands at $548,034.
Finishing third behind New York-bred Princess Violet was Moment in Dixie. Completing the order of finish were Sweet Whiskey, Playful Love, Street Girl, Willet, Tapit's World, Zucchini Flower, Geeky Gorgeous, and Endless Chatter. Snowbell was scratched.
Friday's Go For Wand serves as a prelude to the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap, the last Grade 1 race on the NYRA circuit, on Saturday at The Big A. Cigar Mile Day will also feature three additional graded stakes - the Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen, the Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle, and the Grade 3, $400,000 Comely - as well as a live-money handicapping tournament.
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