Listentoyourheart captures Finger Lakes’ Aspirant Stakes

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Photos: SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Merrylegs Farm homebred Listentoyourheart and jockey Manny Franco made a trip to Finger Lakes well worth their while Monday when they captured the 45th running $114,213 Aspirant Stakes for New York-bred juveniles after a tracking trip. The lucrative six-furlong dash, which was run as race eight, was co-featured with the $108,775 Lady Finger Stakes for fillies run earlier on the card.

This year’s Aspirant Stakes attracted a competitive field of eight including four shippers. Franco was also one of several top jockeys from the NYRA circuit who accompanied horses to Farmington. Dylan Davis took the call on Bruce Brown-trained Mission Wrapitup, a stakes-tested runner, while Eric Cancel had the mount on Inside Info who was making a second career start and dirt debut for George Weaver.

A bay son of Afleet Alex trained by Christophe Clement, Listentoyourheart came into the Aspirant with strong credentials. A front-running 1 1/4-length winner on debut at Belmont Park on June 23 going five furlongs, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 69 which topped the Aspirant field. Next out he missed capturing the inaugural Rick Violent Stakes on July 17 at the Spa by just a nose, nailed late by Sky of Hook after setting the pace over a sloppy track.

Returning in the Funny Cide on Saratoga Showcase Day and drawn in the outside post of nine, Listentoyourheart finished third with a legitimate excuse: the colt lost his footing at the break and was then hung wide for the remainder of the trip. Finger Lakes bettors deemed Listentoyourheart would rebound and made him the most likely to win the Aspirant as the 4-5 favorite.

After veering in at the break, Listentoyourheart split horses immediately to settle in second position just outside of early pacesetter A Maize Zing Rip, who led the field through a quarter in 23.18.

Advancing in the approach to the far turn, Listentoyourheart engaged and passed A Maize Zing Rip midway around the bend as the half went in 47.50.

Even with a little more than a length advantage at the head of the stretch, Franco could still hear the hoofbeats of encroaching closers and kept Listentoyourheart to his task right to the finish line. The bay ultimately completed the six furlongs in 1:13.4 with a 2-length margin of victory.

Mission Wrapitup (7-2) closed from fourth to get second, while 2 1/2 lengths back A Maize Zing Rip held well for third. Disco Deano won the photo for fourth over Inside Info. Finishing next in order were Honor Thy Secret, first-time starter Let Me Call Joe and maiden Pacquiao.

Listentoyourheart is one of three winners from three foals to start and the first black type progeny for New York-bred winner Je T’aime by Gold Token, who was bred by Paula Ann Cohn Hallman and campaigned by Merrylegs Farm. Je T’aime has a yearling filly by Macho Uno named She’s the One.

With two wins, one second and one third from four starts, all run without Lasix, Listentoyourheart has earned $146,628.

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