By Brian Bohl
E.V. Racing Stable’s Eagle Orb was anxious to get going, leaving the starting gate early in Saturday’s $100,000 Notebook. But after the field re-loaded, the son of Orb settled down, tracked the early speed and finished strong for a 2 3/4-length victory in a stakes for New York-bred juveniles going six furlongs over Aqueduct Racetrack’s main track.
Eagle Orb, who entered with a pair of runner-up efforts in three stakes appearances for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, was one of four entrants to burst through the gate before the official start. It was a case of no-harm, no-foul, as all seven horses were re-loaded for the start, with Eagle Orb breaking sharp from post 4.
Storm Shooter set the early speed for a tightly bunched pack, going the opening quarter-mile in 23.28 seconds over a track labeled good. Under current meet-leading rider Kendrick Carmouche, Blue Gator, the 7-5 favorite, took command with the half-mile going in 47.26 as Storm Shooter retreated to the back of the pack.
Out of the turn, jockey Manny Franco urged Eagle Orb from the outside, where he overtook Blue Gator and drew away, hitting the wire in 1:11.71 while improving to 2-2-0 in five career starts. Bred by Barry Ostrager, Eagle Orb built on runner-up efforts in Funny Cide going 6 ½ furlongs on September 4 at Saratoga Race Course and a last-out second in the one-turn mile Sleepy Hollow on October 24 at Belmont Park.
“I think he’s a better horse sprinting,” Franco said. “Today, he was in a nice stalking position and when I put him in position, he started going very comfortably and started opening up.”
Cutting back in distance, Eagle Orb won for the first time since a triumphant debut on August 21 at the Spa. Off at 6-1, he returned $12.20 on a $2 win bet and improved his career earnings to $153,100.
“I didn’t want to get involved in the speed duel early,” Franco said. “I was trying not to take my horse too far off the pace, but I didn’t want to be up there. I wanted to wait behind the speed. My horse settled nice for me and when I put him in the clear, he took me there after that.”
Added Franco on the start: “The horse on the outside of us [Horn of Plenty] was kind of moving around and all the horses broke through the door, that’s when it happened.”
Rodriguez praised Eagle Orb’s consistent start to his career.
“This horse always shows up. I was a little disappointed why we didn’t get the last two wins,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been close at Saratoga and at Belmont. He was knocking at the door.”
Three Diamonds Farm’s Blue Gator, a stakes winner last out in the New York Breeders’ Futurity over a sloppy and sealed Finger Lakes track on October 26, finished 6 ¼ lengths ahead of Market Alert for second for trainer Mike Maker.
“I didn’t want him to be that close, but those horses weren’t fast enough to beat my horse there, so I was just sitting as long as I could,” Carmouche said. “I asked my horse to run around the turn and at the quarter pole he quickened up, but the other horse quickened faster than me. I thought he ran his race.”
Horn of Plenty, Lookin for Trouble, Storm Shooter and Half Right completed the order of finish.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at the Big A with a 10-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Winter Memories for 3-year-old fillies in Race 9 at 3:47 p.m. Eastern and the $100,00 Key Cents for New York-bred juvenile fillies going six furlongs in Race 2 at 12:22 p.m. First post is 11:50 a.m.
Photo Credit: Chelsea Durand