Dubyuhnell showed off his talents and scored a determined half-length victory over Arctic Arrogance in a sloppy renewal of the Grade 2 $250,000 Remsen Stakes on Dec. 3 at Aqueduct. The victory pushed the colt’s record to 2-for-3 and stamped him as a potential player for next year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.
With Saturday’s victory, Dubyuhnell picked up 10 Derby qualifying points, with the Remsen part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. The second through fifth horses earned points on a 4-3-2-1 basis.
The winner also reaffirmed his affinity for wet tracks. His victory Saturday was his second consecutive victory over a sloppy surface after posting a second-out maiden triumph over a wet surface at Aqueduct Oct. 2.
Though the margin was close on Saturday — Dubyuhnell only pulled away in the final sixteenth of a mile from a brave runner-up — he seemed to win with something left, hitting the wire with his ears pricked.
“He was drawing off,” trainer Danny Gargan said. “I think we were pretty lucky he does want to get the distance. We just have to stay sound and stay lucky and keep picking the right races. Maybe we’ll be somewhere in May.”
Arctic Arrogance, winner of the Sleepy Hollow Stakes against New York-breds, set the pace in the Remsen with splits of :24.31 and :48.13 while Dubyuhnell raced in close pursuit.
Favored Tuskegee Airmen, who entered the race 2-for-2 after a win in the Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park, settled in third along the rail after three-quarters in 1:12.23. But Tuskegee Airmen could never pick up the leaders, and the two frontrunners drew clear down the lane in a two-horse battle.
Dubyuhnell hit the wire just in front, having completed the distance in 1:50.88. Following Arctic Arrogance, it was another 11 1/4 lengths back to Tuskegee Airmen in third, with Quick to Accuse fourth, and Midnight Trouble fifth.
Gargan said Dubyuhnell will head to Florida but could return to the Aqueduct in the winter or spring for Kentucky Derby preps such as the Grade 3 Withers Stakes or Grade 2 Wood Memorial.
Being a full sibling to a multiple grade-1 winning champion comes with big expectations, Julia Shining has yet to disappoint.
Coming from off the pace Dec. 3 at Aqueduct, the 2-year-old daughter of Curlin fought through the sloppy track to take the Grade 2 $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes. She did it two years after her older sister, Malathaat, did the same, making the two the second pair of full siblings to win the same race since the early 1900s.
With a slight stumble leaving the gate in the 1 1/8-mile test for juvenile fillies, the Todd Pletcher trainee stayed toward the back of the pack in sixth with Tribal Queen and Royal Spa in first and second place, respectively, through early fractions of :24.61 and :49.35. As the seven-horse field made its way to the final turn, Luis Saez urged Julia Shining forward but did not get much of a response as the filly continued to struggle with the wet surface and remained nearly second-to-last after three-quarters in 1:14.31.
Once in the stretch, it was now or never for Julia Shining, who began to kick into gear down the middle of the track. After a mile in 1:40.13, she had moved to a neck-and-neck battle for the lead with Affirmative Lady. In the final strides Julia Shining surged a neck ahead to win the 1 1/8-mile event in 1:53.05.
“She was clearly not handling things (down the backstretch), and Luis was trying to encourage her to improve position and finally did it around the quarter pole,” Pletcher said. “Once she found a rhythm down the lane, she started to close, and Luis said she kind of got her head in front and then wanted to wait a little bit.”
Affirmative Lady held on for second with Pletcher’s other entrant Gambling Girl, who moved up from last, taking show honors. Royal Spa was fourth, and La Vita Sophia fifth.
As the heavy favorite, Julia Shining paid $3.10 on a $2 win ticket. She is 2-for-2 with $194,075 in the bank.
The recently retired Malathaat took the Nov. 5 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff to close her career on an auspicious note. As a 3-year-old, Malathaat won the 2021 Longines Kentucky Oaks.
The Demoiselle served as a Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifying race, providing points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale to the race’s top five finishers. — Corrie McCroskey