Scilly Cay wins Rego Park to clinch Rice’s 2,000th victory

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

By Sarah Mace

Scilly Cay and trainer Linda Rice both had career milestones in their sights for the sixth running of the $100,000 Rego Park Stakes on Sunday at Aqueduct.

Scilly Cay by Fed Biz, a newly turned 3-year-old homebred colt for Jon Clay’s Alpha Delta Stables, was looking for his first career stakes victory in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for New York-bred sophomores. Rice’s milestone was much longer in the making. She was on the cusp of joining Kathleen O’Connell (2,125) and Kim Hammond (2,280) as the third female thoroughbred trainer to register 2,000 wins. After the race each could proclaim, “Mission accomplished.”

In order to reach the winner’s circle on Sunday, Scilly Cay – who never finished worse than third in three prior outings – needed to turn the tables on rival Dream Bigger. In their last meeting, the Notebook Stakes on November 17, they ran one-two. Scilly Cay, overlooked at 23-1 odds, closed impressively but ultimately could not reel in a pacesetting Dream Bigger who clinched the victory by 1 1/2 lengths.

For the Rego Park, with the field pared down to four by the scratch of Convict, bettors gave the 1-2 edge to Dream Bigger, already a two-time stakes winner and never out of the exacta in five prior starts. Scilly Cay went off as the second choice at 9-5.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

After Scilly Cay broke on top from post with Jose Lezcano at the helm, Dream Bigger rushed up on the inside to take control as the leading pair opened daylight on Notorious Flirt and Harris Bay.

Following early splits of 22.45 and 45.94, Lezcano and Scilly Cay, who had been marking Dream Bigger closely, moved confidently on the turn to challenge, and poked a head in front.

Dream Bigger battled back on the inside, but Scilly Cay put him away for good with three-sixteenths of a mile to go. He drew away to win by 3 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:19 flat for 6 1/2 furlongs.

Early back marker Harris Bay kicked on late to get up for second, finishing one-half length ahead of Dream Bigger. Notorious Flirt, another Rice trainee, brought up the rear. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“I think it was a two-horse race [with Dream Bigger],” Jose Lezcano said. “I broke running and the four also broke running and my horse gave me a very good race. He put me in a good position today and was in the bridle the whole way. When I asked him, he really picked it up and put them away.”

Rice observed, “When it scratched down to four and there was one speed in the race, I knew we were going to be in trouble if we tried the same tactics that we did in the past. Jose and I talked, and he said the same thing. Jose did a very beautiful job.”

As to the milestone of winning race number 2,000, Rice said,

It’s exciting. These milestones are very meaningful. I remember getting my thousandth win at Belmont with a horse [Sextant] that my father [Clyde Rice] owned, so to have one here at Aqueduct for Jon Clay of Alpha Delta, who is one of my great clients, is very exciting and rewarding.

I look at the pictures on the wall and see all the pictures in the archives from 1976 and it doesn’t look like things have changed that much. People are still winning; riders are still trying to make weight. I see pictures of the track and I try to imagine 30 years ago, when I was in school, that they were doing the same thing here. It’s exciting to have gotten to New York and to have been so successful in this arena.

When Rice, who began the day with 1,998 victories, singled out victories for special mention, New York-breds loom large. She cited “La Verdad winning an Eclipse Award and winning lots of stakes with her, Grade 1s with Palace, City Zip, Things Change, Voodoo Song, and Barry Schwartz’s filly Princess Violet at Keeneland.”

Alpha Delta’s Jon Clay, for his part, should congratulate himself on the decision to purchase Scilly Cay’s dam French Satin at the 2008 Keeneland November sale for $400,000. A Kentucky-bred winner of the Grade 3 Florida Oaks and a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner and sire Lion Heart by French Deputy, she has produced three stakes winners among eight progeny winners overall.

Midnight Transfer by Hard Spun, who was bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta, was a stakes winner at Santa Anita. New York-bred Long Haul Bay by Quality Road won the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes.

Scilly Cay has earned $118,460 from his Rego Park and maiden wins, a second in the Notebook and a third when he debuted at Saratoga on August 23.

After breeding French Satin to Quality Road to produce 2018 filly, Alpha Delta went back to the well, and in 2019 got full brother to Scilly Cay. The mare was bred last year to City of Light.



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