Aqueduct Racetrack Notes

March 21, 2021

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control breezed six furlongs in 1:13 flat Saturday at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida in preparation for a start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap on April 3 on the Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino undercard at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“He had a great work yesterday going three-quarters in 1:13 solo and he galloped out strong,” trainer Gregg Sacco said. “He came out of the work super and was bucking and jumping this morning. We have one more work next Saturday at Palm Meadows and then he will fly to New York.”

Mind Control finished third last out in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up won by Sleepy Eyes Todd on December 19 at Gulfstream Park.

“We gave Mind Control a little break after he ran in the Mr. Prospector and he has come back as good as ever,” said Sacco. “He had six weeks off at Good Chance Farm and it did him a world of good. He came back really fresh and happy.”

Mind Control is a three-time Grade 1 winner with scores in the 2018 Hopeful at Saratoga, the 2019 Woody Stephens at Belmont and the 2019 H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga. He has enjoyed previous success at the Big A, where he is 4-for-5, with scores in the 2019 Grade 3 Bay Shore and last year’s Grade 3 Toboggan and Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap.

Sacco said Mind Control is in fine fettle approaching his seasonal debut.

“This might be his last season to race, so we’d like to make every race count. Going into a Grade 1 off the layoff, we wanted to make sure he had all the preparation needed,” said Sacco. “We had an alternative here next weekend at Gulfstream in the Sir Shackleton, but Mind Control loves Aqueduct and he’s training as good as we can expect. He looks fantastic, his coat is great and his weight is great. He’s really wintered well.”

The 5-year-old Stay Thirsty bay will look to make amends for a sixth-place effort in last year’s Carter, won by Vekoma over a sloppy main track in June at Belmont Park.

“We had the Carter penciled in last year and unfortunately with the pandemic it was set back to Belmont on a sloppy day, which he hates,” said Sacco. “This year, I hope we catch good weather.”

Sacco said Junior Alvarado, currently enjoying a productive winter at Gulfstream Park, will have the call on Mind Control in the Carter. Alvarado was aboard for a rallying 1 1/4-length score in last year’s Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at the Big A.

“Junior is one-for-one on him and rode him terrific. He worked him a few times last winter for us in New York,” said Sacco. “Junior is having an outstanding winter here and riding lights out. He made a good choice to come to south Florida this year and show off his skills and I think he’ll come back to New York with a head of steam.”

Just Read It proves quick study after Cicada win for Handal

Just Read It took the next step in her career on Saturday, capitalizing on a forwardly placed trip behind the favorite Save before taking command in the stretch and holding off a charging Exogen by a head in the $100,000 Cicada for sophomore fillies at Aqueduct.

The lightly raced Just Read It was making just her fourth career start and second stakes appearance earning a 73 Beyer for her first stakes black type effort. The Constitution filly made her debut on December 20, running fourth at the Big A, before breaking her maiden at the same six-furlong distance at the Ozone Park track, registering a 6 1/4-length score on January 31.

After finishing a dull sixth over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park in the Cincinnati Trophy on February 26, trainer Ray Handal moved Just Read It back to the more familiar dirt, where she looked comfortable yesterday in besting a four-horse field.

“She was bright-eyed and alert looking for her morning feed,” Handal said with a laugh. “She’s a keeper. She’s quiet and trains the right way and does it all the right way. In that aspect, I’m very lucky. She checked another box. We don’t have anything set just yet for her, but we’ll probably keep her sprinting in the 3-year-old filly-stakes division and preferably here in New York so we can stay home.”

Just Read It, purchased for $70,000 at last year’s Ocala Breeders July 2-Year-Old Sale, is owned by Handal, Ken Russell and Brown Road Racing. She had been training at Saratoga in the summer before being shipped to her current base at Belmont Park before making her debut.

“We’ve seen progress but I don’t think we’ve seen her best yet,” Handal said. “I still think there’s room for improvement and she’ll continue to improve. She went through such a growth spurt. It’s crazy; she keeps getting bigger. I couldn’t believe when she got off the van how much bigger she got, and hopefully she keeps on developing like that. With a four or five-week break between races, maybe she can be even better.”

Jockey Dylan Davis piloted Just Read It to victory in the third race, adding another highlight to a strong meet that unfortunately came to an abrupt end in the ninth-race finale when Davis broke his clavicle in a spill and will be out six-to-eight weeks.

Davis had ridden multiple winners for Handal during the current Aqueduct winter meet, adding victories aboard American Gentleman, Shamrocked and Dealing Justice.

“It’s so unfortunate; he’s a tough guy and a tenacious jockey,” Handal said. “He has a high racing IQ and great decision making and awareness. It really stands out to me when watching races. He can slow down the game so much. I just hope he comes back well and I’ll go visit him in a few days when the dust settles and just check on him and keep his spirits up. This is the time of the year when everyone is getting cranked up. I told Mike Migliore, [Davis’ agent] to not worry and he’ll be part of the rotation here when he comes back.”

Foolish Ghost earned the highest Beyer of his 30-race career when he garnered a 94 for his six-length route against allowance company going six furlongs on March 7 at the Big A. Handal said the 6-year-old Mineshaft gelding will return to Aqueduct in a couple of weeks.

“I’ll probably run him in a [second-level allowance] on April 2,” Handal said. “He’s really fast and I think he’s going to keep getting better. I told the owner after I ran him the first time that I think we can win stakes races with this horses. We’ll find some spots for him down the road. Right now, I’ll just run him against New York breds in these conditions and figure it out from there.”

Foolish Ghost, who made his debut in 2017, is 7-6-4 with earnings of $333,802 but has not started in a stakes yet. He was bred in New York by Pinnacle Farms and is owned by Ken Russell and Richard Newman Racing.

“He looks like he’s in the prime of his career. He’s impressive to look at and very imposing,” Handal said.

Perrine Time Thoroughbreds’ Kansas Kis is doing well one week after running third in the six-furlong Correction at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old daughter of Constitution, who was making her first stakes appearance in 10 months, is 1-1-2 in her last four starts, compiling a consistent record of 2-4-4 in 13 career races dating to her third-place debut in August 2019 at the Spa.

Kansas Kis could be on target for the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap on May 8 at Belmont, with Handal saying she could make another tune-up start before taking the step up in class. 

“She’s doing great. She’s a tough cookie,” Handal said. “I was going to give her a refresher before that. We’ll revisit it. The Vagrancy is the target but I may start her once before that. She’s been running pretty regularly and pretty hard for the winter now, so I don’t want to beat her up for the year. But if we can get this race in, it could be nice spacing into that stakes race.”

Terranova has Original, Breadman bound for stakes action

Trainer John Terranova said he is hoping to make stakes winners out of the Eric Fein-owned bay colts Original and Breadman.

Original, a sophomore son of Quality Road, was third in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy on January 30 at Gulfstream Park last out. Terranova is pointing the Kentucky-bred to the $100,000 Woodhaven on April 17 at Aqueduct going 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Terranova said he plans on shipping stakes-placed New York-bred Breadman to Keeneland for the Grade 3, $150,000 Transylvania on April 2.

Original made his career debut over the Belmont Park main track going seven furlongs on October 11, finishing a distant eighth in a race which featured the second career starts of Kentucky Derby qualifiers Greatest Honour and Caddo River. He then switched over to a yielding outer turf at Aqueduct going 1 1/16 miles, where he led gate-to-wire over eventual winners Aviano and Crew Dragon.

After being eased in the one-turn mile Jerome on New Year’s Day at the Big A, Original shipped to Gulfstream Park and was a pacesetting third in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy on January 30 going one mile on turf.

Last seen racing a distant seventh in the open company Central Park on November 28 over a good inner turf at Aqueduct, Breadman earned black type after a debut win when finishing third in the Sleepy Hollow over the Belmont Park main track to next out winners Brooklyn Strong and Eagle Orb. 

Original worked an easy half-mile in 50.01 Sunday morning over a fast Belmont Park training track, which was his second work back since his last start. Breadman worked a half-mile on Saturday in 50.45.  

“Original is doing very well,” Terranova said. “Breadman worked yesterday morning. They’re both in good order.”

Bred by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, Original was bought for $425,000 from the OBS April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last April, where Terranova’s wife and assistant Tonja signed the ticket. He is out of the unraced Empire Maker mare Unforgettable.

Breadman, bred in New York by Newtownanner Stud, is out of the Arch mare Akris Queen. He was bought for $340,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Yearling Sale in August 2019.

Long Lake Stable’s multiple stakes winner Stan the Man, who was a distant fifth in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 20 last out, resumed serious business on Sunday morning over the Belmont Park training track with a half-mile work in 50.89 seconds.

Terranova said the veteran son of Broken Vow will likely would not race again until the 48-day Belmont Park spring meet, which runs April 22 through July 11.

“It was a nice and easy breeze,” Terranova said. “We’re just hanging out with him and figuring out what what’s out there for him in the spring. We’ll get a couple of more works into him and then figure it out from there. We’ll play it all by ear. He probably won’t run until Belmont.”

Stan the Man, bred in Kentucky by Emma Quinn, Dermot Quinn, Scott Pierce and Debbie Pierce, is a stakes winner at both one and two turns. He closed the curtains on his 5-year-old season with a victory in the nine-furlong Queens County in December 2019 at the Big A and won the restricted Tale of the Cat on August 20 going six furlongs at Saratoga.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has kept stakes-placed Freedom Fighter at the Terranova barn after a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 6. The son of Violence recorded his first work back on Saturday going a half-mile in 49.12 seconds.

“He’s been hanging out here with us since the Gotham and worked back yesterday. He’s doing real well,” Terranova said.

A possible target for Freedom Fighter could be the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore on April 3.

Rombauer unlikely for G2 Wood Memorial

Trainer Michael McCarthy said he is opting towards staying in southern California with John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer, who was under consideration for the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World casino on April 3.

Currently at No. 17 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Rombauer was a close second in last year’s Grade 1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita where he earned four Kentucky Derby qualifying points. He picked up ten more qualifying points with a last out victory in the El Camino Real Derby on February 13 over the Golden Gate Fields synthetic.

The defection of unbeaten Kentucky Derby trail standout Life Is Good made the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, held on the same day as the Wood Memorial, a more viable option for the son of Twirling Candy.

“I’d say the Wood is a second choice,” McCarthy said. “We’re just going to monitor what’s happening out here. Both races are in play but I’m leaning more toward staying out here.”

A debut winner on turf and a stakes winner on synthetic, Rombauer is still in search of his first career victory on dirt. He worked five-eighths in 59.20 Saturday on the Santa Anita main track.

Bred in Kentucky by his owners, Rombauer is out of the Cowboy Cal mare Cashmere – a half-sister to multiple stakes-winning millionaire California Flag and California-bred champion Cambiocorsa.

Cross Country Pick 5 pays $11K; total pool 96K

Saturday’s Cross Country Pick 5 paid $11,732.25 for selecting all five winners for the 50-cent wager at races from Aqueduct and Oaklawn. The sequence’s total pool was $96,633.

Oaklawn kicked things off when Emerald Princess came through at 7-1 in a six-furlong main track contest for 3-year-old filly maidens in Race 6. Emerald Princess, with Alex Canchari aboard, bested Shes Got It by three-quarters of a length, completing the course in 1:11.74. The McLean Robertson trainee paid $17 on a $2 win wager.

Aqueduct made its first foray into the mix with a thrilling finish as Dark Money edged Bustin Timberlake by a nose to win a six-furlong allowance optional claiming tilt for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up in Race 8. Dark Money, trained by Karl Broberg, rallied from fifth to hit the wire in 1:11.81. Also off at 7-1, Dark Money returned $17.40.

An even bigger upset occurred in Oaklawn’s Race 7, as 16-1 Newsflash registered a two-length score in a six-furlong claiming race for 3-year-olds. Trained by Jason Barkley, News Flash paid $34.60, recording a final time of 1:10.53.

Aqueduct’s ninth-race finale saw Summer Brew win by 2 3/4 lengths in a six-furlong maiden race for New York-bred sophomore fillies. Trained by Jorge Abreu and ridden by Eric Cancel, Summer Brew [$8.70] won at 3-1, posting a final time of 1:13.76.

Oaklawn ensured the entire sequence did not have a single victorious favorite when Heartbreaker, at 11-1, topped Megatap by a half length in a six-furlong maiden claimer in Race 8. Trained by Philip D’Amato and ridden by Richard Eramia, Heartbreaker [$25.60] ensured the sizable payout, notching a 1:11.51 final time.

The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is also available on track, on ADW platforms, and at simulcast facilities across the country. Every week will feature a mandatory payout of the net pool.

The Cross Country Pick 5 will continue each Saturday throughout the year. For more information, visit NYRABets.com.

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