Pickin' Time
Pickin’ Time, with Trevor McCarthy up, won the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes. Photo by NYRA.

Pickin’ Time overtook the favorite and pacesetter Ten for Ten in the final furlong and powered home a 2 1/4-length winner to notch his first graded stakes victory in Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Nashua for juveniles at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Owned by John Bowers, Jr., Pickin’ Time entered with ample stakes experience for trainer Kelly Breen, following his debut win at 4 ½ furlongs in July at Monmouth Park. After running eighth in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on August 7, Breen returned the Stay Thirsty colt to Monmouth for consecutive stakes appearance, where he ran second in the one-mile Sapling on September 6 before winning the six-furlong Smoke Glacken on September 27.

Stretched back out to a mile for the first time since the Sapling, Pickin’ Time broke sharp from post 4 under jockey Trevor McCarthy, who tracked initially in fifth position before moving up to fourth as 6-5 favorite Ten for Ten [pressured by Isolate] led the seven-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 22.86 seconds with the half in 46.10 and three-quarters in 1:11.98 over the fast main track.

Out of the turn, jockey Eric Cancel kept Ten for Ten near the rail, while McCarthy made a strong bid from the outside at the top of the stretch. Pickin’ Time picked off his rival and finished strong, completing the course in a final time of 1:39.89 to improve to 3-1-0 in five starts.

“We got a great break and that’s what I wanted; get him out and make sure he had a comfortable spot, which he did,” said McCarthy, who also won the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm on Saturday at Aqueduct. “Looking down the backside, I was very comfortable where I was. I wasn’t getting too much kickback and that seems to be a pretty big key this weekend. I was able to get outside coming to the turn and let him get in his mojo. After that, he really accelerated strong for me and gave me a great effort through the lane. I was delighted.

“Kelly had him ready today,” he added. “He was the most experienced horse in the race, so I was really happy looking into that. Everything worked out perfect.”

Breen said the Grade 2, $150,000 Remsen on Cigar Mile Day on December 5 is the next target for the New Jersey homebred. The 1 1/8-mile test offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to the 2021 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

“He’s just growing into himself,” Breen said. “He was kind of a big and gawky 2-year old. When he ran in Saratoga, he ran against that real nice horse of Steve Asmussen’s [Jackie’s Warrior]. We didn’t get off great that day. Today was the right timing and everything worked out well for him. He’s staying right where he’s at. We’ll look forward to the Remsen.”

Off at 9-1, Pickin’ Time returned $21.00 on a $2 win bet. He improved his career earnings to $184,025.

Courtlandt Farms’ Ten for Ten a $410,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Sale, was 10 ¼ lengths the best of Isolate for second in his stakes debut for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

“I had a really nice trip,” Cancel said. “The pace was a little bit quick at the beginning, but I went on with it. My horse was pretty comfortable, nice and focused and he seemed to be doing it easy until we got to the quarter pole and the other horse got to him quick. He just went by. My horse never gave up. He kept on trying but the other one flew by him.”

Nova Rags, Civil War, Irish Honor and Spectatorless completed the order of finish.

The Nashua, named for the Hall of Famer who won ran second in the 1955 Kentucky Derby before winning the Belmont Stakes and Preakness, was the final leg of a Cross Country Pick 5 with Churchill Downs, with a payout of $6,424.75 for selecting all five winners. The total pool was $52,913.