Excellent Timing made his first start for new connections a winning one with a geared-down 6 3/4-length front-running win in Sunday’s $100,000 Damon Runyon, a seven-furlong sprint for New York-bred sophomores at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y.
The Not This Time colt was purchased privately by Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Dubb following a second-out maiden win for conditioner Charlton Baker in December at the Big A and transferred to the care of four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown.
Excellent Timing trained with Brown’s string at Payson Park in Florida before shipping back to New York and breezing once at Belmont Park last Sunday ahead of his stakes debut.
“We had open company on our mind, but this time of year, everyone throws 3-year-olds to the wolves,” said Dubb, who celebrates his 65th birthday on Monday. “This horse could have a nice and long career, so we wanted to develop the horse the right way and not get him where he loses interest. We want to get him used to winning. Hopefully, once we do that, we can go to open company. It’s the right thing to do with the horse.”
With Manny Franco up, Excellent Timing did not break sharp but was hustled to the front to mark the opening quarter in 24.49 seconds on the fast main track. The dark bay showed the way down the backstretch under pressure from It’s Gravy as Perfect Munnings drafted behind rivals in third.
It’s Gravy continued to press Excellent Timing into the turn as A Longlongtimeago was angled off the rail by Eric Cancel and rallied into contention with the half-mile ticking by in 49.19. Excellent Timing put away It’s Gravy through the turn and opened up a 6 1/2-length lead on Perfect Munnings at the stretch call. Perfect Munnings chased in vain but there would be no catching the 3-5 mutuel favorite, who stopped the clock in a final time of 1:28.02.
Perfect Munnings completed the exacta by five lengths over It’s Gravy. Rounding out the order of finish was It’s a Gamble, A Longlongtimeago, Echoes of Destiny, Reggae Music Man and The King Cheek. Reggae Music Man, who leapt at the break and was caught in the hands of the starter, was declared a non-starter. Eagle Orb was scratched.
Franco said he followed instructions to the letter.
“The plan was to go to the front,” said Franco. “I just let him break out of there and get comfortable. He took me to the lead and did the rest. He’s getting better. Chad had him for the first time today and did a really good job with him and I think he’ll keep improving. I think he can go a little further, a mile maybe. We’ll see what Chad does with him.”
Brown’s New York-based assistant Dan Stupp said he was pleased with the effort.
“The horse ran huge,” said Stupp. “The team down at Payson did a good job preparing him this winter. He came up in great shape; he put on some weight and his coat looks great. Manny did a great job allowing him to show his natural cruising speed and getting him to relax and settle. The horse did the rest from there.”
Bred in the Empire State by Sequel Stallions New York and Lakland Farm, Excellent Timing banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 3-2-1-0. He returned $3.30 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Friday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
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