Sophomore Turned Aside closes campaign with Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship victory
by Brian Bohl
Turned Aside capitalized on a return to more hospitable surroundings, posting another victory on a New York Racing Association track, surging home a 1 1/4-length winner in Saturday’s $100,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship for 3-year-olds and up at the Big A.
The fourth running of the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship, one of four stakes on the 10-race card, saw Turned Aside track in third position under Jose Lezcano as 125-1 longshot Hollywood Talent and Sayaff dueled for the lead, with the opening quarter-mile in 22.45 seconds on the outer turf rated good.
Lezcano urged his charge up to second with the half-mile in 46.59 and took command out of the turn going three-wide, overtaking Hollywood Talent. Lezcano kept Turned Aside alert, repelling El Tormenta’s bid from the far outside under Dylan Davis, to complete the six-furlong course in 1:10.89.
“He broke good and he's a very nice horse,” Lezcano said. “He can run on anything. I got my position and let him grow into the race little by little. I let the two inside horses go and when it was time to go, I let him pick it up.”
Owned by the Estate of Paul Pompa, Jr., Turned Aside improved to 4-2-1 in nine career starts, with all four victories coming in New York, including two at the Big A and a victory in the Grade 3 Quick Call in July over the Saratoga turf.
Turned Aside, one of just two sophomores in the 10-horse field, did not start his 3-year-old campaign until June 19, when second in the Sir Cat on June 19. Facing older horses for the first time, the son of 2015 Triple Crown-winner American Pharoah ended his 2020 with a 2-1-0 record in four starts.
“It’s a big step up to run a 3-year-old against older horses and I thought this was a deep, competitive field,” said winning trainer Linda Rice said. “There were some really solid turf sprinters in here. It’s the end of the 3-year-old season, so we didn’t have very many options. This horse has trained outstanding all year.
“That’s the end of the turf season for us, so he will probably get a break at this point.”
After running fifth in the Grade 3 Franklin-Simpson on September 16 at Kentucky Downs – his first start outside of the Empire State – Turned Aside won for the third time in his last five races overall, returning $12 on a $2 win bet. Turned Aside improved his career bankroll to $241,967.
“We took him to Kentucky Downs but he didn't care for the course, so we were hoping to turn him around to his previous form.
Rice said the victory was bittersweet, with Pompa, Jr. passing away in October.
“It brings tears to my eyes with his family here; his brothers, his wife and sons,” Rice said. “I just wish Paul could have been here today. He would have been so excited. Anyone who has crossed paths with Paul Pompa, I’m sure is going to miss him a lot. He was just a treasure to train for.”
Grade 1-winner El Tormenta, trained by Gail Cox, outkicked True Valour by one length for second.
“He was just trying to figure out some ground under him,” said Davis, who won three races on the day, including aboard Mutamakina in the Grade 3, $100,000 Long Island. “I think it was a little soft for him. I wanted to be a little bit closer but that's where we ended up. He made a good run coming on the outside. I really thought he was going to get up and win, but Lezcano found a little more with his horse.”
Therapist, Maxwell Esquire, Archidust, Battle Station, Lonhtwist, Hollywood Talent and the favorite Sayyaaf completed the order of finish.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct with a 10-race card highlighted by the Grade 3, $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, the $100,000 Autumn Days and the $100,000 Tepin. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.