Fully Vested much the best in Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship
by Ryan Martin
Godolphin's Fully Vested sat close to the pace along the rail, angled out around the far turn and kicked away when in the clear, drawing off to a 7 ¼-length triumph in Saturday's $125,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship over a firm outer turf.
Making his fourth start on grass, Fully Vested built on a short-but-consistent turf resume, which now stands at 2-1-1 in four starts, including a last-out third-place finish behind fellow Tom Albertrani trainee Final Frontier in the Belmont Turf Sprint on September 28.
Piloted by jockey Jose Lezcano, Fully Vested broke sharply out of the gate, but it was dual stakes-winner Gidu from the rail who took early command of the pace and led the seven-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.80 seconds with Vici to his outside in second while Fully Vested was tucked in along the rail in third.
Around the far turn, Lezcano gave Fully Vested his cue and angled him three-wide where he had dead aim on the leaders. Once in the clear, Fully Vested drew away at the top of the stretch and sailed to victory in a final time of 1:09.49. Vici finished a head to the better of Lonhtwist in third.
Completing the order of finish were Gidu, Dubini, Nice Tune and Jammer.
Lezcano, who was aboard Fully Vested in four of his 13 career starts, including two victories, said this was one of the horse's best efforts yet.
"Today he broke (well) and was very relaxed," Lezcano said. "I put her behind those two other horses. At the quarter pole, I asked her and he took off and won the race. I think this is one of the better races he ever gave me."
Fully Vested notched his first stakes win and fourth win overall. Two starts back, he was a gate-to-wire winner against allowance company over the Saratoga lawn in August.
Albertrani is now on even terms with trainer Mark Casse for most stakes wins of the Fall Meet with three apiece.
"It was definitely a class relief coming out of his last race running against Final Frontier and Shekky Shebazz," said Albertrani who previously saddled Sadler's Joy and Andina Del Sur to stakes triumphs earlier in the meet. "He trained well heading into this race today. We felt pretty good coming into today, and he ran better than I could have ever imagined. Jose has ridden him in the past and he's a horse that really doesn't like being taken a hold of. He rated well and had a good kick today."
Albertrani did not rule out a start in Dubai's Group 1 Al Quoz Turf Sprint on March 28 at Meydan Racecourse, a race which Godolphin has won the past two years. Should Fully Vested ship to Dubai, he could be Albertrani's second contender in the U.A.E. as he previously stated Grade 3 Red Smith winner Sadler's Joy is a possible candidate for the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on the same day.
"He wouldn't be a bad candidate for Dubai, just thinking in the moment, but I'll speak to the connections before we make any plans," Albertrani said.
Bred and owned by Godolphin, Fully Vested returned $5.10 in a $2 win wager. He is out of the stakes-placed Unbridled broodmare Trade Only, whose granddam Amirati is out of the prolific broodmare Weekend Surprise - the dam of American Classic winners A.P. Indy and Sumer Squall.