Franco, Rice, Klaravich Top The Big A

April 28, 2024

Manny Franco won the Danger’s Hour Stakes aboard Spirit of St. Louis. (Walter Wlodarczyk)

• Manny Franco leading rider 
• Linda Rice leading trainer
• Klaravich Stables claims owners’ title

at Aqueduct spring meet

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Manny Franco paced all other jockeys to claim the riding title at the Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet, notching 28 wins at the 16-day meeting which ran from April 4 through April 28.

The 29-year-old native of Carolina, Puerto Rico earned a repeat win and his third overall title at the meet after capturing last year’s Big A spring title with 37 wins and the 2019 title with 18 wins. 

Franco came out on top by eight wins over Dylan Davis [20 wins] with Jose Lezcano finishing third with 18 wins. It was the 11th riding title at a NYRA meet for Franco, who was also the leading jockey on the NYRA circuit in 2018 [244 wins], 2019 [212 wins] and 2023 [238 wins]. 

“It feels great to be back on top,” said Franco, who is represented by agent John Panagot. “I’m just grateful and happy to be in this position. I want to say thanks to all the trainers and owners and all the people who make this possible.”

He posted a record of 95-28-15-13 at the meet that included stakes wins in the NYSSS Times Square aboard Antonio of Venice for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, and the Danger’s Hour for trainer Chad Brown aboard the New York-bred Spirit of St Louis, who set a new inner turf record of 1:33.57 for one mile. In all, Franco’s mounts banked $1,538,164 with a win rate of 29.47 percent and in-the-money rate of 58.95 percent. 

Franco said he is grateful to have ridden both Antonio of Venice and Spirit of St Louis at the meet. 

“It’s great – it’s a long year, so hopefully they keep sound and keep doing what they do; that’s what I’m here for,” said Franco. “Spirit of St Louis is great – it’s a big barn and a big opportunity, and I just try to make the most of it. I try to do good and the horses help me a lot with a lot of talent. I’m just happy to be a part of it.” 

Linda Rice won a close battle with Chad Brown to secure the training title at the meet with 18 wins. 

“We focus on New York racing and my staff have done a wonderful job – my assistant, Marsha Barrs, Jose Meza, Mauricio Gonzalez, we’ve got a big crew and they’ve been working super hard all winter long,” said Rice. “I’m just happy that we got such good results.” 

Rice, 60, notched her 15th training title at a NYRA meeting and her seventh at the last eight NYRA meets, along with year-end honors last year as the circuit’s top trainer with a record-tying 164 wins. It was her fifth Big A spring meet title, adding to wins in 2011-12, 2017 and 2023. 

She posted a record of 67-18-9-13 with $806,545 in earnings, good for a win rate of 26.87 percent and in-the-money rate of 59.70 percent. Her top wins included allowance-level scores with graded stakes-winner Joey Freshwater, who earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in victory, and with the stakes-placed Everyoneloveslinda

Joey Freshwater the 2023 Bay Shore for Rice (second from left). (Janet Garaguso)
Joey Freshwater won the 2023 Bay Shore for Rice (second from left). (Janet Garaguso)

Rice said she was pleased with both horses’ performances, and that Joey Freshwater will now be pointed to the Grade 3, $175,000 Runhappy on May 11 at Belmont at the Big A. 

“Everyoneloveslinda ran great, and oddly enough, I tried not to claim that filly for two years because of her name, but then I just had to take her,” Rice said, with a laugh. “Joey Freshwater ran a 105 Beyer in that ‘three-other-than’ and we’re pointed to the Runhappy. It’s been a great winter, great spring, and the water just keeps getting deeper. We’ll see what we can do.”

Brown finished second with 16 wins while Rudy Rodriguez finished third with 10 wins. 

Under Eric Cancel, Reasoned Analysis won the Bay Shore for Klaravich April 6. (Joe Labozzetta)
Under Eric Cancel, Reasoned Analysis won the 2024 Bay Shore for Klaravich April 6. (Joe Labozzetta)

Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables claimed their 26th owners’ title at a NYRA meeting and fifth Big A spring title, posting a record of 18-7-5-1 and $480,960 in earnings to be the leading Big A spring owner for the third consecutive year. Their wins included a stakes triumph with Reasoned Analysis in the Bay Shore, as well as a strong allowance win with the stakes-placed Asset Purchase off a nearly one-year layoff. 

Winning Move Stable finished second with six wins while Rice and Michael Dubb tied for third with five wins each. 

Live racing resumes Thursday at the Big A with an eight-race card to kick off the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet, featuring the state-bred $100,000 Affirmed Success in Race 3. The 31-day meet runs through July 7. First post during the month of May at the Belmont at the Big A is 1:05 p.m. Eastern with the exception of three Saturday cards [May 11th, 18th and 25th] which will feature a 12:35 p.m. first post. For the meet’s full stakes schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/stakes-schedule/

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