OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Robert V. LaPenta and Augustin Stable’s Hard Love came close to breaking through in his stakes debut last out and will look to break through in his third career start overall in Saturday’s sixth running of the $100,000 Woodhaven for 3-year-old colts at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 1 1/16-mile test on the inner turf course is one of two stakes on the nine-race program, which also includes the $200,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series Times Square for sophomores going 6 1/2 furlongs over the main track.
Trained by Jonathan Thomas, Hard Love ran second in the Central Park on November 28 at Aqueduct, where he displayed stalking tactics behind a leisurely pace and maintained second position throughout to finish 1 3/4 lengths back to Never Surprised at the Woodhaven distance.
The son of Kitten’s Joy displayed a similar running style when victorious on debut at 11-1 odds at Belmont Park on October 10. He stalked a moderate pace, established command in the upper stretch and battled with runner-up Big Everest to a two-length win.
Thomas said Hard Love could continue to see prosperity as he stretches out.
“We had been scrambling a little bit for works, but I think we have enough foundation where we can get him started in the Woodhaven,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, as the distances get drawn out over the summer, he’s going to be adept at that.”
Thomas selected Hard Love as a 2-year-old from Eddie Woods’ consignment barn at last year’s OBS April Sale, where he was purchased for $200,000.
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano will pilot Hard Love from the inside post.
Trainer Jorge Abreu will send out Lawrence and Jennifer Goichman’s Shawdyshawdyshawdy, who looks to get back on track after finishing second in his seasonal bow in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance event. The son of third crop sire Summer Front broke from the rail and was nine lengths off a slow pace before making up enough ground to finish a respectable second to filly Queen of the Green on February 10.
A dazzling debut victory going 1 1/16 miles on August 1 at Saratoga prompted his connections to try stakes company with the bay colt, where he finished fourth beaten one length in the More Than Ready Juvenile on September 7 at Kentucky Downs. He again ran fourth – 4 ¼ lengths behind eventual Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Fire At Will – in the Grade 3 Pilgrim on October 3 at Belmont Park.
“He’s doing great,” Abreu said. “I gave him the allowance race because I wanted to get him back on track from the time off. He ran a good race and tried. He’s a horse that I think wants to go longer. He’s a big horse, he’s 17.1 [hands].”
Jockey Trevor McCarthy will be aboard from post 4.
Trainer Chad Brown will saddle Peter Brant’s Sifting Sands, who arrives fresh off a maiden victory at Tampa Bay Downs on March 13. The royally bred son of Dubawi saved ground throughout and rode the rail to a three-quarter length victory going one mile.
Bred in Great Britain by Newsells Park Stud, Sifting Sands is out of the Montjeu mare Yummy Mummy. He comes from the same family as 2009 Irish Derby-winner Fame and Glory.
Jockey Manny Franco will ride Sifting Sands for the first time from the outside post.
Eric Fein’s Original has not raced since acquiring graded stakes black type when third in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy on January 30 at Gulfstream Park. The John Terranova-trained son of Quality Road has displayed frontrunning tactics in both turf starts. After a lackluster career debut on the Belmont main track, a change in surface appeared to make all the difference for Original, who broke through with a two-length victory on November 14 over a yielding outer turf at Aqueduct, beating eventual-winners Aviano and Crew Dragon.
Original will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post 5.
It’s a Gamble arrives as the most seasoned horse in the field with seven starts, and two victories, for trainer Kelly Breen. The Mr. Amore Stable-owned New York-bred son of English Channel defeated eventual stakes winner Thin White Duke on his August 13 career debut at Saratoga and found the winner’s circle once more going six furlongs on December 4 over a good outer turf at Aqueduct.
It’s a Gamble will break from post 2 under Junior Alvarado.
Completing the field are stakes-placed Extrasexybigdaddee [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche] for trainer Michael Trombetta as well as Minuteman [post 6, Eric Cancel] – a two-time starting maiden for trainer Tom Albertrani.
The Woodhaven is slated as Race 8 on Aqueduct’s nine-race program. First post of 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
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Aqueduct Press Release
Photo: Hard Love broke his maiden at first asking at Belmont in a large field of 11 on October 10, 2020. (NYRA/Coglianese)