Dr Ardito outslugs Bankit to win Haynesfield

Monday, February 20th, 2023

Dr Ardito (4) wins lengthy stretch battle with Bankit to take Monday’s Haynesfield Stakes at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

Dr Ardito made a successful President’s Day foray into stakes competition – and did so surviving a tough tussle with a leading member of the New York-bred older male division – in Monday’s $97,000 Haynesfield at Aqueduct.

Michael Dubb’s and Michael Caruso’s 5-year-old gelding by Liam’s Map also stretched his winning streak to six with a head victory over millionaire and multiple stakes winner Bankit in the 1-mile Haynesfield. Trained by Chad Brown and under Manny Franco, Dr Ardito improved to 6-for-7 and boosted his bankroll to $284,600.

“He has a ton of heart,” Dubb said of the gelding named for his longtime doctor. “Chad has managed this horse incredibly well.”

Dr Ardito, the 4-5 favorite against a group of seasoned New York-breds led by Bankit, landed in the Haynesfield after his connections also considered the open $88,000 allowance-optional at 1 mile that immediately followed the state-bred stakes.

“You have to be patient. I had in my mind if this race didn’t go, we’d be in the 3x here today,” Dubb said. “Fortunately, it did go and all worked out well. He’s had ankle [issues], but we’ve given him plenty of time. We gelded him a long way back and that may have helped him. He’s sound now. Chad is never in a rush.”

Sea Foam and Wudda Y Think Now were in a rush in the Haynesfield, hooked up early and opened up on their three rivals through a sharp opening quarter-mile in :22.84. Bankit and Dr Ardito were content to race third and fourth, respectively, up the backstretch and to the half in :46.18 as the two front-runners continued their duel on the lead.

Bankit, looking to give Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen his 10,001st about 20 minutes after his milestone score at Oaklawn Park, cruised past the tiring leaders approaching the stretch with Dr Ardito to his outside. The two leaders plummeted after 6 furlongs in 1:11.67, leaving Bankit and Dr Ardito to run for the $55,000 first-place check.

Bankit, on the inside under Jose Lezcano, and Dr Ardito were deadlocked past the eighth pole before the latter barely edged clear inside the final sixteenth for the win in 1:37.86.

“I know the horse pretty well so I know when I ask him, he’s going to be there for me,” said Franco, aboard for all of Dr Ardito’s starts. “I knew the pace was hot in front of me and at that point the horse to beat was going to be Bankit, so I had to follow him. When I had the chance, I went around him and I asked my horse because I knew it was him and me. I went a little early, but I think that was the right move.”

Full Moon Fever, making his stakes debut at 16-1, picked up the pieces to finish third and 7 3/4 lengths back. Wudda U Think Now and Sea Foam completed the lineup.

Bred by Fred Hertrich and John Fielding, foaled at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham and out of the winning Indian Charlie mare Delightfully So, Dr Ardito was purchased by Dubb for $95,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. Unraced at 2, Dr Ardito made a pair of starts at 3. He finished second in his debut sprinting on a sloppy track at Aqueduct in late February 2021 before winning going 1 mile in mid-April.

Dr Ardito went to the sidelines for nearly a year and returned last February to string together three wins – two against state-breds going 1 mile at Aqueduct and another in an open-company allowance at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park. He went to the shelf again after the last victory in mid-May and returned last month at Aqueduct to take another open allowance-optional over stablemate Nabokov on a muddy track at 7 furlongs.

Dr Ardito is the fourth foal out of Delightfully So, a half-sister to Canadian champion and Grade 3 winner Delightful Mary and Grade 2 winner and millionaire Delightful Kiss

Hertrich purchased Delightfully So as an unraced 3-year-old for $55,000 at the 2013 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. She won two races from nine starts carrying his colors before heading to the breeding shed.

Delightfully So’s first foal, the winning Union Rags gelding Navistar, sold for $900,000 at the 2017 OBS March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Her third foal, a New York-bred Constitution filly, sold for $210,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. Delightfully So is also the dam of a yearling filly by Volatile that brought $180,000 at last year’s Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

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