A nine-furlong test awaits a field of five juvenile colts in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Remsen over Aqueduct Racetrack’s main track.
The Remsen, which offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, is one of four graded stakes on Saturday’s card which is headlined by the Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile for 3-year-olds and up. The lucrative program also features the Remsen’s juvenile fillies nine-furlong counterpart, the Grade 2, $150,000 Demoiselle, as well as the Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand for fillies and mares going a one-turn mile over the main track.
Already a winner at the nine-furlong distance, Known Agenda will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher a third Remsen triumph, joining subsequent Grade 1-winners Bluegrass Cat (2005) and Overanalyze (2012).
Owned and bred by Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable, Known Agenda rose to the occasion at second asking, breaking his maiden on November 8 at Aqueduct over a fast main track. He sat just 1 1/2 lengths off the pace in the nine-furlong maiden special weight and battled down the stretch with Greatest Honour before winning by a head, garnering a 79 Beyer Speed Figure.
The chestnut son of Curlin and second offspring out of Grade 1-winner Byrama finished second to eventual stakes-winner Highly Motivated in his career debut on September 27, going 6 ½ furlongs at Belmont Park.
“I was actually surprised he ran as well as he did sprinting, but it helped him a lot for his maiden win,” Pletcher said. “He’s designed to run longer. He’s had two good efforts so far.”
Since breaking his maiden, Known Agenda has recorded two breezes over the Belmont training track, most recently a half-mile going 48.52 seconds on November 28.
Pletcher said he was encouraged by the maiden victory on a track he considered to be deep on opening weekend of the Big A fall meet.
“We always felt that he was always a two-turn horse and is bred to be one,” Pletcher said. “Especially that opening week, it seemed like the track was extra demanding. The fact that he was able to handle it on that deep of a surface is encouraging. He’s come back and trained well so we’re looking forward to running him.”
John Velazquez, currently tied with fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Maple with four Remsen triumphs, will attempt to become the race’s standalone winningest jockey, piloting Known Agenda from post 2.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is the winningest conditioner in Remsen history with four previous scores and will attempt to extend his advantage when sending out Ten for Ten following a runner-up finish to Remsen-rival Pickin’ Time in the Grade 3 Nashua on November 7 at the Big A.
Owned by Donald and Donna Adam’s Courtlandt Farms, the son of first crop sire Frosted was second in his debut on September 7 going six furlongs at Saratoga before winning at second asking in front-running fashion by eight-lengths while registering a 78 Beyer. Ten for Ten replicated that figure in the Nashua when finishing 2 ¼ lengths back to Pickin’ Time.
Ten for Ten worked a quick half-mile in 48.25 seconds Sunday on Big Sandy and McGaughey said the colt is coming into the Remsen in good order.
“He worked in 48 and change and went fine,” McGaughey said. “We’re on the right track. He acts like he’s a pretty nice horse. It will be interesting seeing him go a mile and an eighth. He’s quick so we’ll see how he does on Saturday. He should be able to place himself well.”
Bred in Kentucky by George Krikorian, Ten for Ten is the second offspring out of the Eskendereya mare Summer Vacation, who is a half-sibling to Grade 1-winners Creative Cause and Vexatious, as well as multiple graded stakes winner Destin.
Jockey Jose Ortiz will ride Ten for Ten from post 5.
John Bowers, Jr.’s New Jersey homebred Pickin’ Time, trained by Kelly Breen, will attempt to become the first horse since Mohaymen in 2015 to score the Nashua-Remsen double.
The son of Stay Thirsty triumphed in the six-furlong Smoke Glacken on September 27 at Monmouth Park and stretched out to one mile in style in the Nashua, where he made a three-wide move at the top of the stretch and took command just outside the eighth-pole to draw off to victory.
Pickin’ Time boasts the highest earnings in the field with $184,025 through a consistent 5-3-1-0 lifetime record.
Jockey Jose Lezcano, who piloted 2009 Remsen victor Buddy’s Saint, will return to the saddle from the inside post.
Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong will attempt to parlay his stakes-winning form into graded stakes company for trainer Daniel Velazquez.
The son of Wicked Strong, bred in the Empire State by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, was a winner at first asking in a maiden claiming mile on September 12 at Delaware Park. Following a third in his stakes debut in the Bertram F. Bongard for state-breds on October 2 at Belmont Park, Brooklyn Strong bested fellow state-breds in the one-mile Sleepy Hollow on October 24 at Belmont Park by 2 1/4-lengths over Eagle Orb, who exited that race to win the Notebook on November 14 at the Big A.
“It shows we’re beating legitimate horses,” said Velazquez of the Sleepy Hollow score. “Physically, he’s really maturing. We’re coming into December now and he’s growing more into his body and he’s more physically stout.”
A $5,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training from the Coastal Equine consignment, Brooklyn Strong has already banked $112,500.
“The owner went down to Ocala and he called me and sent me a few pictures,” said Velazquez. “It was $5,000 and we decided to take a shot. We didn’t think he’d end up winning stakes races. Of course, we’re doing a little Derby dreaming, but we want to take it just one day at a time and stay healthy.”
Jockey Joel Rosario will climb aboard Brooklyn Strong for the first time from post 3.
Rounding out the field is Erawan, for trainer and owner Jose Corrales.
The Florida bred son of Rock Hampton was a 23-1 upset winner of his career debut on November 8 at Laurel Park before facing winners going 1 1/16 miles at the Maryland oval, where he was elevated to third after rallying from last-of-9 to come within a half-length of victory.
Jockey Manny Franco will be in the irons from post 4.
The Remsen is slated as Race 4 on Aqueduct’s 10-race program, which offers a first post of 11:30 a.m. Eastern. America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the Aqueduct fall meet with coverage to air on FOX Sports and MSG Networks.
Edited Press Release/ NYRA/Coglianese Photo