Vacation Dance takes Atlantic Beach Stakes

Saturday, November 5th, 2022

Vacation Dance, a son of the late The Lieutenant, rolls to victory in Saturday’s Atlantic Beach Stakes at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

Vacation Dance, close in his stakes debut last time behind a third-place finisher in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, collected his first stakes victory with a gritty effort in Saturday’s $120,000 Atlantic Beach at Aqueduct.

The 2-year-old son of the late New York-based sire The Lieutenant fended off No Nay Hudson through the lend of the stretch to win the 6-furlong turf stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. Owned by Sleeping Giant Stables, America’s Pastime Stables and Kim Don Racing and trained by John Kimmel, Vacation Dance improved to 2-for-3 under Kendrick Carmouche in 1:08.41 over the firm turf.

Vacation Dance won the Atlantic Beach the day after the Future Stars Friday card at Keeneland Race Course. He finished third, beaten a neck behind Nagirroc, in the Grade 3 Futurity last month during the Belmont at the Big A meeting. Nagirroc came back to finish third behind Europeans Victoria Road and Silver Knott in the $1 million Juvenile Turf at Keeneland.

Kimmel pre-entered Vacation Dance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, but the colt didn’t enter after landing 18th on initial also-eligible list.

“I was pretty certain he’d be a little fitter than he was when he lost the Futurity,” Kimmel said. “He entered the Futurity off of a fairly lengthy break between breezes. He actually hadn’t breezed in 15 days. We had contemplated the idea of running him in the Pilgrim – he’s a big horse and we thought he’d handle two turns and the distance, but the long and the short of it is that it rained super hard and the turf course was super soggy.

“Today, I thought he’d be a little fitter and he showed he was. He had been working pretty steady.”

Sent off as the 5-2 third choice in the field of five behind 3-2 Inflation Nation and 8-5 No Nay Hudson, Vacation Dance took the lead from the break and led through the opening quarter-mile in :22.30. He led No Nay Hudson by a length through that split, and still held that foe off by a half-length after the half-mile in :44.65.

No Nay Hudson made a run after the leader at the top of the lane and through the lane, but Vacation Dance held off those runs to win. No Nay Hudson finished 1 ¼ lengths clear of Inflation Nation with Chiringo fourth and Be of Courage fourth.

“I’m really happy John and the owners picked me to get back on this horse,” said Carmouche, who rode Vacation Dance to victory in his debut Sept. 4 at Saratoga Race Course. “This horse ran good first time for me. Today he showed he can go a little further, he might just need some horses to run and look at.

“We went fast to the half, but he was doing it so comfortable, I wasn’t worried about it. I was just waiting on him to switch leads and keep it together so we could go a little bit more.”

Bred by Harry Landry and James Hogan and foaled at Majestic Farm in Schaghticoke, Vacation Dance is out of the Zensational mare Matinee Express. Initially sold by Harry L. Landry Bloodstock for $45,000 at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic October yearling sale, Vacation Dance was scratched from the OBS March sale of 2-year-olds in training and sold for $90,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Kimmel said Vacation Dance’s works on the dirt give him enough confidence to consider the $500,000 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Series in mid-December at Aqueduct.

“He is stallion eligible, so we’ll probably give it a go and gauge it off his breezes on the dirt. We’d have to try it for half a million bucks. If he doesn’t handle that, we’ll probably give him a little breather and bring him back next spring.”

Vacation Dance is from the lone crop of the late The Lieutenant, a half-brother to Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Justify, who stood his lone season in 2019 at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson before going to Peru for the Southern Hemisphere season. The Lieutenant was one of four stallions killed by marauders at a raid on Haras Barlovento in December 2019.

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