By Tom Law
The winter months are barreling down in the Northeast – even though it didn’t feel much like it in early November – and Todd Pletcher hopes for more big things from Vacay once the calendar rolls over to 2021.
The 2-year-old daughter of Not This Time showed she could be in for a productive sophomore campaign with a 5 ½-length victory in the $100,000 Key Cents Stakes for New York-breds Sunday at Aqueduct.
“I thought it was a very professional performance on her part,” Pletcher said after Vacay won the 6-furlong Key Cents in 1:11.69 to improve to 2-for-2. “She didn’t break great in her first start but broke better today. She finished up the way you would want one to. She’s a quality filly and it looks like she’ll handle more distance as well.”
Bred by J Stables LLC, Vacay was purchased by her owners Repole Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners for $100,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. Consigned by Fort Christopher’s Thoroughbreds, agent, and the tenth yearling through the ring during the New York-bred sale’s second session, Vacay is out of the stakes-winning Belgravia mare Florida Sun.
“We always liked her quite a bit,” said Pletcher, who trained Vacay in Saratoga this summer and fall before she joined his main string at Belmont Park in late October. “She gives me the impression she’s going to improve even more when we stretch her out a little bit.”
The next two opportunities for Vacay to stretch out – and stay against New York-breds – come during the Aqueduct winter meeting in the $100,000 Franklin Square at 6 ½ furlongs Jan. 16 and the $100,000 Maddie May at 1 mile Feb. 20.
“That’s the most likely plan,” Pletcher said of potential plans to keep Vacay in New York for the winter. “I’ll talk it over with the connections but I would like to take advantage of the New York-bred status.”
Vacay won her debut at 6 1/2 furlongs at Belmont Oct. 16 and shortened up a bit Sunday. Irad Ortiz Jr. put Vacay into a stalking position early in the Key Cents while Chasing Cara, Rossa Veloce and Lady Finger Stakes winner Party At Page’s led through opening splits of :22.25 and :45.89.
Vacay came wide into the lane, continued to gain on the leaders and took control near the eighth pole. The 3-2 favorite drew off from there while Rossa Veloce held second, 1 ¾ lengths in front of Party At Page’s.
“She’s a nice filly,” Ortiz said. “She looks like she can go a little further. I was trying to hold her position and as soon as we were turning for home, I asked her, and she took off.”
Vacay is the third foal produced by Florida Sun, who won the 2014 Leave Me Alone Stakes at Calder Race Course and placed in three other stakes in South Florida. Her first to foals are also winners – the 4-year-old Warrior’s Reward gelding J’s Warrior and the 3-year-old Palace Malice colt Our Troubadour. Florida Sun, also the dam of a yearling full brother to Vacay, was bed to Khozan in 2020.