Lead Guitar strikes a winning note in Autumn Days
by Keith McCalmont
Jim and Susan Hill’s New York-bred Lead Guitar, with Jose Lezcano up for the first time, ran her win streak to four with a dominant score against open company in Sunday’s $100,000 Autumn Days, a six-furlong outer turf test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by George Weaver, the 4-year-old Maclean’s Music bay arrived at Sunday’s sprint on the good turf from a three-quarter-length score in the six-furlong Floral Park contested on soft footing at Belmont Park.
Ode to Joy broke sharpest of all in the 10-horse field, but New York-bred Risky Mischief, with Kendrick Carmouche up, commanded the lead from the three-path through an opening quarter-mile in 23.33 seconds.
Lezcano angled Lead Guitar outside of Risky Mischief into the turn with A Great Time, last-out winner of The Very One on a yielding Pimlico Race Course turf, following her run wider still as the half-mile was clocked in 47.08.
Always moving comfortably as the field turned for home, Lead Guitar powered away from her rivals under light encouragement from Lezcano to secure the 3 1/4-length score in a final time of 1:10.87. A Great Time completed the exacta by a head over a game Risky Mischief.
Lezcano said his maiden voyage aboard Lead Guitar went according to plan.
“She’s a very nice filly; the kind you can do whatever you want with,” said Lezcano. “It was my first time riding her and she broke well. She put me right in the race and when I asked her to go on, she went on and won the race.
“I watched her replays,” he added. “She’s the type of filly that can come from behind. She doesn’t need to be close, but today, I thought the best thing was to be close.”
Assistant trainer Blair Golen was full of praise for the hard-trying filly.
“She’s a good girl,” said Golen. “She’s just a nice filly to train and be around. She’s proven that she doesn’t have to have everything go her way.”
Madeline Must, Ode to Joy, I’llhandalthecash, Saratoga Treasure, Mentality, My Sassy Sarah [who missed the break] and Dendrobia rounded out the order of finish. Rose Flower and main-track only entrants Malibu Mischief, Timely Tradition and Bridlewood Cat were scratched.
A $200,000 purchase at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale, the talented bay launched her career in June 2019 under Weaver's care, including a third-out graduation on the Saratoga turf versus state-breds.
After making the first four starts of her 4-year-old campaign for trainer Eddie Kenneally, including a restricted August 20 optional-claiming sprint score on the Saratoga turf, Lead Guitar returned to Weaver's care and captured an open optional-claiming turf sprint on the front end on September 20 at Belmont ahead of her Floral Park score.
Bred in the Empire State by Windylea Farm, Lead Guitar banked $55,000 in victory, while improving her record to 11-6-2-1. She returned $4.50 as the 6-5 mutuel favorite.
Live racing resumes Thursday at the Big A with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.