Photo finish for Drafted and Little Vic in the Gravesend with Drafted taking the honors Dec. 20, 2022. (Susie Raisher)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Dublin Fjord Stables, Racepoint Stables, Kevin D. Hilbert and Thomas O’Keefe’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Drafted brings his trademark closing kick to Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for older horses, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Tom Fool, slated as Race 8, is part of a stacked Saturday card headlined by the one-turn mile Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham in Race 9, which offers 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers; and the $200,000 Busher [Race 4] at one-mile for sophomore fillies, which offers 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points. First post on the 10-race card is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.
Trained by David Duggan, Drafted enjoyed a solid 2022 season, posting a record of 9-4-1-1 led by NYRA circuit wins in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan and six-furlong Gravesend at the Big A, and the six-furlong Grade 3 Runhappy at Belmont Park. He also notched a rallying score in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector at Monmouth Park.
Despite a rallying style that would suggest the further the better, Drafted has earned three of his last five victories traveling six furlongs.
“We were debating the other day what the best distance is for him,” Duggan said. “He always looks like he’s running out of ground going six furlongs and when you get to seven-eighths, he hits a bit of a flat spot.”
The 9-year-old Field Commission gelding finished a distant third last out in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan won by a runaway Repo Rocks, who notched an impressive score in Saturday’s Stymie here. The Toboggan runner-up, Little Vic, who finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Drafted that day, returns here.
“The last time we ran into a horse that’s turned into a monster,” said Duggan of Repo Rocks. “We have to make up a length or so on Little Vic and hopefully we can do that cutting back. We’re up for the challenge.
“He’s pretty exposed at this age and we have no secrets to hide. We’ll have our patented run,” continued Duggan. “Hopefully, they go fast enough, and we can run them down late.”
Drafted breezed a sharp half-mile in 48.42 seconds Sunday over the Belmont dirt training track.
“It was a decent breeze, and I was very happy with it,” Duggan said. “He’s not the easiest to train, but he’s a cool, older horse and we’ve found a pattern of training that seems to work for him right now. He’s thriving on it and is in good order. He’s been flying our flag the last year and a half. You need those types of horses to keep your name in lights. if your light goes dim in New York, you’re out the back door before you know it.”
Drafted, assigned 122 pounds, will exit post 4 under returning rider Luis Rodriguez Castro.
Karen A. Zimmerman’s graded-stakes winner Runninsonofagun [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche, 122 pounds] will make his seasonal debut. Trained by John Toscano, Jr., the Gun Runner gelding grew from claim to fame in a productive sophomore season last year, posting a record of 10-3-2-4 led by a nose score in the six-furlong Grade 3 Bold Ruler in October at Belmont at the Big A.
Runninsonofagun was claimed in each of his first two outings as a juvenile with his current connections haltering the improving bay for $40,000 out of a six-furlong maiden score in December 2021 at the Big A.
“It’s like catching lightning in a jar,” said Toscano, Jr. of the claim. “It’s not an easy thing to do, but it happens every once in a while, and we were fortunate to be in the right spot at the right time.”
He made seven starts in graded company last year, finishing second in the one-mile Grade 3 Dwyer in July at Belmont ahead of a trio of third-place finishes in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 2 Amsterdam and seven-furlong Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga Race Course along with the six-furlong Grade 2 Gallant Bob at Parx.
Runninsonofagun rallied from sixth position to best returning rival Eastern Bay by a nose in the Bold Ruler. He completed his campaign with a runner-up effort in the six-furlong Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap in November at the Big A when a neck back of Greeley and Ben in a frenetic affair that saw only a half-length separate the top-four finishers.
In that event, Runninsonofagun, who has raced with blinkers on since the H. Allen Jerkens, appeared to re-rally once he sighted the closing run of third-place finisher Factor It In to his outside.
Toscano, Jr. credited jockey Kendrick Carmouche for the initial addition of blinkers and a slight modification that will be made to the equipment for his seasonal debut.
“He said he looks around a lot at other horses, so let’s get him focused. So, I put a set of full cup blinkers on him,” Toscano, Jr. said. “He didn’t see that horse next to him [in the Fall Highweight]. Carmouche said to add some slits in the cups so he can peek out and see someone alongside him, so that’s what we’re going to do now. Hopefully, that will help him focus and see the horse next to him.”
Runninsonofagun has breezed extensively for his return over the Belmont dirt training track, posting a number of sharp works, including a bullet half-mile in 49 flat on February 2 and a five-eighths bullet in 1:00.60 on February 16.
“He’s been working very good. Hopefully, he comes back the horse he left off as,” Toscano, Jr. said. “He got a little feisty and when I first claimed him, he wasn’t like that. Sometimes they develop like that when they’re good racehorses.”
Trainer Norman Cash will saddle a pair of contenders for his Built Wright Stables in graded-stakes winner Eastern Bay [post 1, William Humphrey, 123 pounds] and the speedy six-time winner Pirate Rick [post 5, Jose Gomez, 118 pounds].
Eastern Bay, a 9-year-old E Dubai gelding, was claimed for $35,000 in April 2022 and has since posted a record of 10-5-3-0 for current connections, including runner-up efforts in the seven-furlong Grade 2 Vosburgh and Grade 3 Bold Ruler in October at Belmont at the Big A.
He enters from a stalking 1 1/2-length score in the seven-furlong Grade 3 General George on February 18 at Laurel Park.
Pirate Rick, a 6-year-old Liam’s Map gelding, boasts a record of 22-6-3-1 for purse earnings of $259,254. He earned a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure for a seven-length score in a six-furlong optional claimer here on January 22. He returned on six day’s rest to set the pace en route to a fourth-place effort in the Grade 3 Toboggan and enters from a sixth-place effort in the General George.
Bottle Rocket Racing, Qatar Racing Limited and Marc Detampel’s graded-stakes placed Nakatomi [post 6, Dylan Davis, 120 pounds] will make his seasonal debut for trainer Wesley Ward.
The 4-year-old Firing Line chestnut won the six-furlong Bowman Mill in October 2021 over a sloppy and sealed Keeneland main track ahead of an eight-month respite. He returned with an optional-claiming score in June at Churchill Downs and was fourth in the aforementioned Gallant Bob before besting eventual graded-stakes winner Endorsed in an optional claimer at Keeneland in November. He completed his campaign with a closing fourth in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Malibu in December at Santa Anita.
Bred in Kentucky by Arnold Zetcher and Crestwood Farm, the $25,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale purchase has trained into this event at Turfway Park where he recently breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 on February 23.
Little Vic [post 7, Carlos Olivero, 121 pounds] enters from a runner-up effort to Repo Rocks in the aforementioned Grade 3 Toboggan for trainer Juan Carlos Avila and owner Victoria’s Ranch.
The 4-year-old Practical Joke colt entered the Toboggan from a narrow nose defeat to Drafted in the Gravesend in his Big A debut. A veteran of 12 starts with a record of 4-3-1 for purse earnings of $236,230, the prominent bay captured the seven-furlong City of Laurel in November at Laurel Park.
Rounding out the field are graded-stakes placed Wendell Fong [post 8, Jorge Vargas, Jr., 117 pounds] for trainer Natalia Lynch; and Chateau [post 2, Jose Lecano, 118 pounds], who makes his third appearance in this event after winning the 2021 edition and finishing second a year ago. Chateau enters first off the claim for owner/trainer David Jacobson.