by Keith McCalmont and Najja Thompson
Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Sassy Agnes completed an all-stakes hat trick with a dominant front-running performance to capture Friday’s $100,000 Key Cents at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Linda Rice, the chestnut daughter of Central Banker arrived at the six-furlong sprint for New York-bred juvenile fillies from fall victories upstate in the Lady Finger and Shesastonecoldfox at Finger Lakes.
Sent to post at odds of 5-1 for her Aqueduct debut, Sassy Agnes blasted out of the gate under Jose Ortiz and made all the running, while marking off swift splits of 21.98 seconds for the quarter-mile and a half-mile in 45.39 under pressure from My Best Friend, with Take Me to Hardoon tracking from third.
Espresso Shot, last of 12 after breaking outward from post 6 under Eric Cancel, made up significant ground along the rail to be fourth at the top of the lane as Sassy Agnes, with a 2 ½-length advantage, continued her powerful pacesetting performance.
Under steady urging from Ortiz, Sassy Agnes put away My Best Friend and had enough in reserve to turn back a rail-running Take Me to Hardoon and the outside rallying Espresso Shot who arrived in the final stride to complete the exacta. Sassy Agnes, a 1 1/4 length winner, paid $13.60 to win while stopping the clock in 1:11.79.
Rice said she was pleased with the strong pace presence demonstrated by Sassy Agnes to win the Key Cents.
“She’s really coming into her own. I kept her at Finger Lakes because I wanted to keep going three-quarters [of a mile] with her. I said let’s bring her down for this race, and then maybe as a 3-year-old, she can compete against open company. She’s very fast,” said Rice.
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