By Sarah Mace
Just before Sunday’s 24th running of the $100,000 Times Square division of the of the New York Stallion Series for eligible New York-sired 3-year-olds, Francis Paolangeli’s homebred Gold for the King was getting a shoe repair and, according to the paddock report, “not happy” about it.
That could have spelled trouble for the 3-2 favorite, as he launched his sophomore campaign after a four-month layoff, but the Posse gelding obviously recovered his equanimity by post time, and proceeded to deliver yet another a thoroughly professional performance to capture Aqueduct’s Closing Day feature.
Never out of the money in six prior career starts, and winner of last year’s New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes and Notebook Stakes at Belmont, Gold for the King was partnered with Joel Rosario for the first time in Sunday’s highly-competitive 6 1/2-furlong tilt.
After breaking from post six (of seven), Gold for the King settled comfortably in midpack in the four path, while relative longshot Italian Syndicate led the way through early fractions of 22.78 and 45.27, chased by Bavaro in second.
Still racing in the clear through the turn, Gold for the King, in his distinctive lime-green blinkers, spun out five wide for the drive. Zeroing in on Italian Syndicate and Bavaro, he cruised past the pacesetters with a furlong to go, with T Loves a Fight to his inside.
Edging away from T Loves a Fight in the stretch, Gold for the King crossed the finish line 1 3/4 lengths to the good. After six furlongs in a sharp 1:10.08, the final time for 6 1/2 panels over the fast main track was 1:16.53.
Runner up T Loves a Fight finished three lengths ahead of Reason to Soar in the third and completing the order of finish were Italian Syndicate, Bavaro, Mission Leader and Jaime’s Angel. [VIDEO REPLAY]
“I had a great trip,” Rosario reported. “[Trainer] Charlie [Baker] told me to wait as long as I can and make one run at the end. I tried to wait as long as I could and he came with a very nice run.”
Baker, who was celebrating his fourth win on the card, followed up, “He’s a nice horse and he can overcome anything. He did everything OK. He has a big, long stride so once he got going, he was clear. We had enough pace in there where he was going to be OK. It was a pretty decent race coming back off the layoff.”
Baker is considering the Mike Lee on the May 29 New York Showcase day card at Belmont Park for Gold for the King’s next start. The gelding has now won four of seven starts with a second and two thirds, and earned $370,568.
Foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, Gold for the King is the second foal and first winner out of Gold for the Queen, a New York-bred multiple stakes winner bred by Pegasus Farms Inc., also campaigned by Paolangeli and trained by Baker.
Gold for the Queen currently has a yearling colt by Frost Giant named True Gold, and was barren this year after being bred to Japan in 2016.