Two more races rounded off the action this past Saturday at Aqueduct in the form of the 2022 Red Smith Stakes and the Fall Highweight Handicap. Both were Grade 2 contests and packed with plenty of intrigues – here is everything that happened.
2022 Red Smith Stakes
Grade 2, 1 mile and 3/8, turf, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $300,000.
- Astronaut +1200
- Highest Honors +350
- Cold Hard Cash +2500
Twelve horses headed down to post for this year’s Red Smith Stakes and it was generally perceived as a wide-open contest. Favorites for the contest were Balthus and Soldier Rising but both would go on to finish way down the field.
Instead, this race would fall to the Thomas Albertrani trained Astronaut who was ridden by Kendrick Carmouche.
Carmouche headed into the contest having won aboard Sixtythreecaliber in Grade 3 Comely Stakes on Friday, but this ride was even better.
Despite the reasonably long distance of the race, Carmouche and Astronaut flew out of the starting gates and bagged an early lead. With the rest of the field content to let Astronaut dictate things up front, Carmouche was able to run the race he wanted.
Managing the pace expertly, Astronaut still held an easy lead rounding the home turn. His closest opposition came from the Chad Brown trained Highest Honors, however, with a furlong to run, Carmouche would ask Astronaut for more and the response was immediate.
Showing he had plenty left in the tank, Astronaut opened up and easily streaked away from the rest of the field. The highest Honors had no answer to the sudden injection in pace and could only hold on for a second. Cold Hard Cash did his best work late on to finish third.
2022 Fall Highweight Handicap
Grade 3, 6 furlongs, dirt, open to horses three and over. Total prize pool $200,000
- Greeley And Ben +600
- Runninsonofagun +125
- Factor It In +225
If the first race in our preview was an exhibition of how to win a race of the front, this year’s renewal of the Fall Highweight Handicap was one of the best races of the season.
The race was won by Greeley And Ben who was having his first run for trainer Faith Wilson, however, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
With just seven runners in the field, the majority of runners found themselves in contention heading down the home straight. It was Jaxon Traveler who looked like he would come out on top as he managed to create some daylight between him and the rest of the field, but his charge for the line would become derailed.
On the inside, Greeley And Ben found a seam whereas both Runninsonofagun and Factor It In were making their charges from the wide outside.
It looked like the race would come down to Runninsonofagun and Factor It In as both swooped past Jaxon Traveler deep inside the final furlong. With the pair set to battle it out, the eye was then drawn to Greeley And Ben.
Despite looking like he would be outpaced, Greeley And Ben mustered all of his experience and when asked for more found an extra gear.
Making up the short distance on his rivals, Greeley and Ben snuck ahead in the shadows of the post and would go on to win this thrilling race by a neck.
Runninsonofagun would confirm second, with Factor It In rounding out the top three.
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