NEW YORK (AP) Moment Is Right repelled a stretch challenge from Decked Out to win the $237,500 Astoria Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Thursday at Belmont Park.
The 104th running of the Astoria kicked off the Belmont Stakes Festival, three days of stakes races that culminate with American Pharoah's Triple Crown bid on Saturday.
Moment Is Right and jockey Joel Rosario bounded right to the lead and appeared to be in trouble when Decked Out, the 3-5 favorite, challenged in the lane. Moment Is Right fought back to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths, improving to 2 for 2 for trainer Wesley Ward.
''It was a short field but she showed a lot of heart,'' Ward said. ''Probably Saratoga is next for her.''
The time was 1:04.77 for the 5 1/2 furlongs. Moment Is Right paid $4.70 and $2.30 as the 6-5 second choice. Decked Out returned $2.20. One Minute was third with La Nina the trailer.
There was no show wagering.
The race was delayed about 10 minutes when Tonasah tossed rider Javier Castellano just before the start and ran off. The jockey was not injured as the frisky filly eluded the outriders, circling the track several times before tiring and being caught. She walked safely off the track, and returned to Todd Pletcher's barn.
In the supporting event, Zindaya beat Marbre Rose by 2 1-4 lengths and the Christophe Clement-trained fillies ran 1-2 in the $150,000 Intercontinental Stakes on the turf.
Manny Franco was aboard as the 4-year-old got her fourth win in nine starts. She ran the seven furlongs in 1:22.17, paying $12.20 to win.