OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Jim Ryerson was just as surprised as everybody else when Always Sarah returned from an eight-month layoff to win a six-furlong maiden race Feb. 11 as the longest shot in a five-horse field. Ryerson’s surprised reaction was not because he didn’t think the filly had talent but because he thought she would prefer going a longer distance.
“It was a small field, and the race set up for her, and she came home very well,” Ryerson said.
After running second as the favorite in her first start around two turns, Always Sarah will get a second opportunity to run long, this time going a one-turn mile in a first-level New York-bred allowance that serves as Aqueduct’s Thursday feature.
“She was climbing, ran spotty in her first two-turn effort,” Ryerson said. “Hopefully, this distance should be fine for her.”
Ryerson said Always Sarah was plagued by shin trouble in both her 2- and 3-year-old seasons, which explains why she’s had two lengthy layoffs in her career.
“They seem like they’re behind her,” Ryerson said.
Always Sarah will break from post 2 in a nine-horse field that includes recent maiden winner Candy Counter, Razia Sultana, and the Maryland invader Super Sharp.
Always Sarah, by Curlin
Last 3 Beyers: 55-55-40
Didn’t seem to care for dirt in her face in the early stages of her first try against winners March 13 yet still managed to rally for second.
Should appreciate turning back to a one-turn mile.
Could get a good pace setup with Super Sharp, Candy Counter, and Lighting Lilly in the field.
Taken by Surprise, by Giant Surprise
Last 3 Beyers: 52-50-49
Did win at this level going two turns when offered for a $75,000 claiming tag in February over the inner track.
Owns a win sprinting over the main track back in November.
In two other dirt sprints, she finished well behind the multiple stakes winner Frosty Margarita.
Razia Sultana, by Harlan’s Holiday
Last 3 Beyers: 61-43-17
Half-brother to the multiple graded stakes winner Samraat has been mired in this condition since winning a maiden race by 10 1/2 lengths going a one-turn mile over the main track last April.
Doesn’t project to get the comfortable, easy lead she had that day.
Candy Counter, by Sidney’s Candy
Last 2 Beyers: 56-48
Took advantage of a soft pace to win a mile-and-70-yard maiden race in her first route try and second career start over the inner track in March.