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No One can withstand Criticism

ELMONT, N.Y. – Darley Stable’s Criticism (GB) did nothing more than be herself Saturday afternoon, as she lead from the gate to the finish wire for a 2 ¼-length victory over Mushka in the 51st running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park.

It was her third win in four starts this year, and the 5-year-old Machiavellian mare made it easy on herself and the $2 win players among the crowd of 6,865 who made her the post-time favorite.

Breaking from post 3 in the field of six – Shadiyna (IRE) and Russian Rosie (IRE) were scratched – Criticism was on the lead from the start. Jockey Javier Castellano, who had ridden her to victory in Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Long Island Handicap last November as well as the Grade 2 La Prevoyante at Calder on April 25, saved ground and set a sensible pace of 24.92, 50.52, 1:15.01, 1:39.37 and 2:02.27, while never being seriously pressured by Mushka.

Mushka issued a brief challenge in the lane, but Criticism drew away to cover the 11furlongs in 2:13.96 on the firm inner turf course, where the portable rail was set at 18 feet. She returned $3.60 to win.

“That’s kind of the way we thought the race would unfold,” said winning trainer Tom Albertrani. “There wasn’t a whole lot of speed in there. She doesn’t have to be on the lead, but if it happens that way, she’s happy to be there.”

Criticism will likely go for another Grade 2 victory here on June 27 in the $250,000 New York Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile and a quarter on the turf.

“(We had a) perfect trip, you can’t beat it,” Castellano said. “She’s a very special filly. She’s sharp in the beginning, you just have to hold it – the worst part is if somebody hooks with her, she’s gone. She’s the kind of the horse you need to go the first quarter mile nice and easy and after that she does the rest.

“She’s very competitive though. I saw on the backside Ramon (Dominguez, aboard Mushka) hooked up with me, because it was a slow pace and when he hooked up with me, my filly took off again You can do whatever you want with her. I didn’t ask her at all, just [showed] the whip, and kept hand riding. It looked to me like she was giving everything she had. And she finished strong –I knew in the end, wow, she flew in the end. I don’t think any horses from behind could have beaten her the way [she finished].”

Mushka finished a nose ahead of Caprice (FR) for the place. It was a neck back to Colina Verde (BRZ) in fourth. Backseat Rhythm and Venetian Causeway trailed.


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