‘Lute runs away with Rockville Centre Stakes
The Midnight Lute colt debuted a 12-length victor at Big Sandy on May 28 and exited the gates the 7-5 second choice in his stakes bow Saturday. He didn’t get the best of starts, stumbling out of the stalls to be last, which allowed Manifest Destiny to take command through an opening quarter in :22.16.
It didn’t take long for Runaway Lute to begin running and he quickly ranged up to be third while three wide on the backstretch. Silver Mission, the near 6-5 favorite, pressed Manifest Destiny before grabbing control through a half-mile in :45.85.
Runaway Lute was drawing ever closer and circled those two rounding the turn. The dark bay juvenile took the lead and easily sailed home to complete six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.82.
Ethan Hunt rallied for second, no match for the winner but 1 1/4 lengths better than Silver Mission, who captured the Tremont Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths prior to this one. Interestingly enough, that was the same margin back to Manifest Destiny in fourth, while Concatulations brought up the rear.
Bred in New York by Windylea Farm, Runaway Lute paid $4.90 for his Rockville Centre score. The Gary Contessa trainee moved his record to a perfect two-for-two and has now banked $111,000 in lifetime earnings.
Runaway Lute is out of the Waquoit mare Nikki Tootsie, making him a half-brother to multiple stakes heroine Judy Soda, who would go on herself to produce stakes scorer Germaniac. This is the same female family as dual champion Go for Wand and English classic-winning sire Known Fact.
ROCKVILLE CENTRE QUOTES
Gary Contessa, trainer Runaway Lute, winner: "Looking at this race on paper, I was thinking, 'Man, there's three serious speed horses in here. Are we going to have to rate?' But when you have Javier Castellano, you don't even have to have that discussion. I always tell Castellano, just ride him Castellano style, however it comes up.
"Obviously, after the fact, I'm glad he got left a little bit (at the break) because he showed us a new dimension. If you want to have a good horse, he's got to have that ability to not have things go his way and win anyway. So I'm glad to see this, I've always thought he was a super horse.
"Now we'll take the next step forward, maybe the ($200,000) Saratoga Special ([G2] on August 14) or the ($350,000) Hopeful ([G1] on September 5), but we're definitely going to go open company because I think he's that good."
Javier Castellano, jockey Runaway Lute, winner: "He's shown a lot of potential. I think he's going to be a really good horse in the future. The way he did it today, he did it the right way. When it was time to go, he (went). He switched at the right time and right place. You don't see too many two-year-olds that way. It's a big advantage for a jockey to ride those kind of horses.
"He had problems at the start but it didn't matter. I didn't want to rush and put him in the lead. I wanted to teach him something. Today was the perfect scenario for that (with) only a five-horse field."
Runaway Lute photo courtesy of NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography