by Keith McCalmont
Amanda Laderer and Dianette Rivas’ Kentucky homebred Lady Milagro zipped through swift splits en route to a 51-1 upset to provide apprentice jockey Luis Rivera, Jr. his first career stakes win in Friday’s $150,000 Autumn Days, a six-furlong outer turf test for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Carlos Martin, the 4-year-old daughter of First Dude also secured her own first stakes win after leaving the gate as the second longest shot on the board in her fourth stakes attempt in her 24th career start.
Rivera, Jr. was aboard Lady Milagro for just the second time after piloting the speedy bay to a pacesetting fourth last out in an optional-claimer on October 28 here over the main track.
“I’m so happy and happy for the owners for giving me the opportunity to ride her back after the last race,” said Rivera, Jr., a 19-year-old native of Puerto Rico. “The past few months here in New York have been great. Everything is going awesome.”
Martin credited Rivera, Jr. for a smart ride as Lady Milagro notched her first win since a nose allowance score in April here over graded stakes-placed Gal in a Rush traveling the same distance over firm turf.
“She had ran 1:07 and four when she beat that good filly Gal in a Rush, so [we were] hoping they would leave her alone out there,” Martin said. “[With] Luis, we had a leap of faith putting a bug in a stake – they figure, ‘oh, she’s just going to be pace fodder.’ But, the kid can ride, so I was confident. He had put in the time with her the last four or five weeks working her every week in the morning, so I thought he deserved an opportunity and it turned out well.”
Lady Milagro exited post 2 in the nine-horse field and rocketed through splits of 21.69 seconds and 43.84 over the firm footing with Headland tracking from second to the outside of Salvaje with All That Magic in fourth and 6-5 mutuel favorite Danse Macabre in fifth.
Lady Milagro opened up by five lengths at the stretch call as Danse Macabre, who left the outermost post under Adam Beschizza, launched her bid from fifth position with All That Magic in hot pursuit. But there was no reeling in the runaway Lady Milagro, who scored by 1 1/2-lengths in a final time of 1:07.55.
Danse Macabre completed the exacta by a neck over All That Magic, who was a neck better than fourth-place Sterling Silver. It was another head back to Loon Cry in fifth with Poppy Flower, Itsakeyper, Salvaje and Headland rounding out the order of finish. Can’t Buy Love, Mail Order and main-track only entrants Unified Alliance and Hot Fudge were scratched.
Lady Milagro, who finished third in the 2022 Ruthless here over the main track, returned to turf after a pair of fourth-place finishes on the main track here. She improved her turf record to 7-3-1-1 with the stylish score.
Rivera, Jr. said the scratch of potential pace presence Mail Order dictated his race strategy.
“I knew there was no speed but me. So I said, ‘we got to go to the lead’ and hope we just make it to the wire first,” Rivera, Jr. said. “On the backstretch, I didn’t know we were going 21 [and change for the opening quarter-mile]. She was so comfortable on the lead, and when I asked her in the stretch, she just took off.”
The Kelsey Danner-trained Danse Macabre kept her perfect in-the-money record of 10-5-4-1 afloat, entering from a rallying score in the six-furlong Glen Cove here on October 19. The Army Mule chestnut made the grade in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride in March at Gulfstream Park.
Beschizza tipped his cap to Lady Milagro.
“All credit to the winner, I just couldn’t reel her in,” Beschizza said. “I was quite comfortable and happy with where I was. I didn’t feel like I was giving that much ground away like we were last time. Inside the sixteenth, I thought I might be able to reel her in, but she just kept going.”
Lady Milagro, out of the winning Saint Liam mare Tribecky, banked $82,500 in victory while improving her record to 24-4-4-4. She returned $104.50 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Saturday at Aqueduct with a 10-race program, featuring the $100,000 Notebook in Race 4, the Grade 2, $250,000 Hill Prince in Race 5, the $100,000 Key Cents in Race 7 and the $150,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship in Race 9. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Aqueduct Racetrack, and the best way to bet every race of the fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.