(Montauk Traffic runs off to win the Jimmy Winkfield / Photo by Elsa Lorieul & Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Chris Fountoukis’ Montauk Traffic gave trainer Linda Rice her third stakes triumph of the meet when making a furious last-to-first rally to take Saturday’s $100,000 Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Montauk Traffic, a gray son of third-crop sire Cross Traffic, arrived at the seven-furlong event for sophomores off a 4 ½-length graduation at second asking over the Aqueduct main track at the Big A on December 28.

Piloted by Aqueduct leading rider Jose Lezcano, Montauk Traffic was well off the pace in the early stages while 8-5 favorite Secret Rules and 35-1 longshot Johnny Ritt raced in tandem, recording an opening quarter-mile in 23.07 seconds, 3 ½ lengths in front of dual stakes winner Newstome.

Jockey Jose Lezcano — Montauk Traffic (1st):

“I knew the 5 and the 2 [Johnny Ritt and Secret Rules] would be going, but I knew this is a type of horse where you can do whatever you want with him,” Lezcano said. “I had so much horse and with him, he responds very quick. I think he can go any distance.”

Trainer Linda Rice — Montauk Traffic:

“I was very pleased with his performance today. I could see he wasn’t very comfortable being hustled aggressively to keep up with the fast fractions,” Rice said. “Jose let him drop back and went inside before circling outside. I was thrilled he was able to get up. He’s continuing to mature and shown a lot of ability in his three starts so far.”

Rice, who already has a contender on the Kentucky Derby trail with last Saturday’s Grade 3 Withers winner Max Player, said the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 7 at Aqueduct is now in play for Montauk Traffic.

The one-turn mile offers 50-20-10-5 qualifying points to the top-four finishers and was captured by last year’s Jimmy Winkfield winner Haikal.

“This horse I’d like to point towards the Gotham. Max Player we’ll point towards the [Grade 2, $750,000] Wood [Memorial, April 4].”