Florida-bred Whatintheliteral sprinted to the lead from the start and fought off a tenacious Aoraki throughout the stretch to win the $150,000 Astoria by head at Saratoga Thursday. It was the first career victory for the Jena Antonucci trainee, who defeated six other 2-year-old fillies going five-and-a-half furlongs at odds of 13-1.

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Whatintheliteral exploded from post one and quickly had a length advantage on Aoraki, a first time maiden special weight winner for trainer Steve Asmussen at Churchill Downs in her only start. Whatintheliteral sprinted through the first quarter mile in :22.16 while under pressure from Aoraki to her outside with The French Horn and 2-1 favorite The Queens M G giving chase together in third from a length-and-a-quarter back.

Aoraki drew even with Whatintheliteral as they turned for home after a half-mile in :45.79 and those two went at each other for the entire length of the stretch. But Whatintheliteral gained a narrow advantage just before the wire as they finished in 1:05.06 on the fast track.

Aoraki held on for second, a length-and-a-quarter ahead of French Horn in third. Baytown Butterfly, West Memorial, Biscuitwiththeboss and The Queens M G completed the order of finish. Baytown Cleopatra and Long Neck Paula were scratched. 

Whatintheliteral paid $29 to win.

Whatintheliteral debuted on April 7 against maiden special weight fillies at Keeneland but finished fifth, 12 ½ lengths behind The Queens M G and West Memorial. Whatintheliteral improved in her next start on April 24, finishing third, beaten less than a length by Tapit First, again going four-and-a-half furlongs at Keeneland in a maiden special weight for fillies.

Whatintheliteral is by Lord Nelson out of Lilikoi, by Freud and was bred by Bella Inizio Farm LLC. She earned $82,500 for owners horseOlogy Racing and Craig Steinhart to push her career earnings to $89,129.

Whatintheliteral is the first stakes winner for Lilikoi, who has three winners from three starters. Lilikoi has a weanling filly by Greatest Honor bred by Horseology LLC.

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