Drafted Looks To Carry Good Form Into 9-Year-old Season

January 1, 2023

Drafted closes out 2022 with a win in the Gravesend (Susie Raisher)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Dublin Fjord Stables, Racepoint Stables, Kevin D. Hilbert and Thomas E. O’Keefe’s multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Drafted, who turned 9 years old with the New Year, earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for his gutsy nose score in the $150,000 Gravesend on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by David Duggan, the grey son of Field Commission will now turn his attention to a title defense in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 28 at the Big A.

Drafted closed out his 8-year-old campaign in dramatic fashion, flying from last-of-5 in the six-furlong Gravesend to nip the stakes-winning Laurel Park shipper Little Vic by a nose at the wire under a well-timed ride from Luis Rodriguez Castro. He defeated a short but talented field that included graded stakes-winner Morello and multiple stakes-placed Three Two Zone after the original field of 12 was reduced to a quintet of runners due to scratches.

“Even though it scratched down to a short field, there were some key runners in there,” said Duggan. “Morello is solid and Little Vic is solid, so it wasn’t like they were getting rid of the dead weight. Obviously, we were worried about the pace, but we got a decent enough pace. He showed up.”

The Gravesend was the fourth stakes victory of the year for Drafted, who also notched graded scores in the aforementioned Toboggan and the Grade 3 Runhappy at Belmont Park, as well as the Mr. Prospector at Monmouth Park.

Duggan said Drafted has shown heart throughout the year despite a handful of tough races when fifth in both the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at the Big A and the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga Race Course.

“He’s come back just fine and we just play the hand we’re dealt,” said Duggan. “We over-faced a little in two or three of his races this year, but there wasn’t a whole lot of options. You always worry how that affects the older horses, but it didn’t affect him.”

Drafted first arrived in Duggan’s care in late 2020, shipping in from the barn of trainer Doug Watson after competing in Dubai, U.A.E. from December 2017 to February 2020. Upon Drafted’s arrival, Arturo Parada, a longtime groom for Duggan, was tasked with caring for the seasoned gelding. Parada, who formerly worked for trainer Nick Zito, came to work for Duggan 17 years ago when he decided to stay in New York instead of moving to Florida.

While Parada cares for a handful of Duggan’s trainees, he said Drafted holds a special place in his heart.

“He’s super,” said Parada. “When I come in the morning, he’s very nice and he’s very quiet. I take care of five horses, but this one I spend more time with. He’s nine, but he doesn’t act it. He’s perfect.”

Parada said some fine tuning and patience has allowed Drafted to reach his full potential this year.  

“Oh my goodness,” said Parada, with a laugh. “When this horse came here, he didn’t want his blanket and was scared of everything, so I spent a lot of time working with him. He didn’t like the bridle we were using, but we switched the bridle and he’s so much better now.”

Duggan, who manages his stable with his life, Lara, said Parada has not only become a key part of his training operation, but of his family as well.

“He just showed up one morning and was fantastic,” Duggan said, with a laugh. “He’s like our adopted son. He’s been as good and reliable as Drafted.”

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