Law Professor romps home in the $150K Queens County (NYRA/Coglianese)
By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Kentucky homebred Law Professor drew off to an impressive 7 1/2-length score in Saturday’s $150,000 Queens County, a nine-furlong route for 4-year-olds and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Rob Atras and piloted by the red-hot Manny Franco, the graded-stakes winning son of Constitution proved to be much the best in a race originally scheduled for a December 31 Big A card that was cancelled due to heavy fog.
Law Professor entered from a pair of Grade 1 starts, posting a game runner-up effort to multiple Grade 1-winner Life Is Good in the nine-furlong Woodward here in October ahead of a last-out fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Keeneland.
The emphatic score could propel Law Professor back to Grade 1 company in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational on January 28 at Gulfstream Park should the talented colt draw in as one of eight horses on the reserve list for the $3 million test.
“We were hoping this would be a race he could win and be a confidence builder because he had run against some real tough horses his last two,” Atras said. “We’ll have to see how he comes out of the race. It is a little quick back, but I wouldn’t rule out anything.”
Law Professor was bumped at the break but managed to settle comfortably in third position as the Jorge Vargas, Jr.-piloted Sea Foam marked the opening quarter-mile in 23.77 seconds over the good main track with Thomas Shelby tracking in second under Jose Lezcano.
Sea Foam and Thomas Shelby continued to duel down the backstretch through a half-mile in 47.79 and three-quarters in 1:12.56 as Franco waited to give an eager Law Professor his cue.
Law Professor was asked for run approaching the far turn and was in front at the five-sixteenths, kicking on gamely under light urging from Franco and powering away to a comfortable score under wraps in a final time of 1:51 flat.
Naval Aviator rallied to complete the exacta by three-quarters of a length over Thomas Shelby with Bourbonic, Sea Foam, Plot the Dots, Unbridled Bomber, Shooger Ray Too, the defending race winner Forewarned and Grade 2 Kelso Handicap-winner Double Crown, who broke outward from the outermost post 10, completing the order of finish. Eloquist was scratched at the gate for precautionary reasons after getting his right hind-leg caught in the gate according to NYRA’s Senior Examining Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Hinchliffe.
Atras admitted to being a little nervous even as Law Professor took command.
“It’s never over until it’s over but the way everything unfolded, it was a very professional victory,” Atras said. “I wouldn’t say we were expecting it, but the way he had been training, we were looking for this effort. I’m very glad we got it.”
Franco equaled a NYRA record with six wins on a single card on Friday at the Big A, and continued his winning ways on Saturday with Law Professor’s effort marking the 28-year-old rider’s fourth win on the card.
“I was able to stalk three-wide and that was it. He was dragging me the whole way,” Franco said. “I didn’t want to move too soon. I knew I had a lot of horse under me. I just wanted to wait a little longer. The horse went on with it. I knew they would have to run fast to pass me. I knew how much horse I had.”
Franco credited his agent, John Panagot, as one of many reasons for his recent run of form.
“I can’t believe it. I’m just grateful to be a part of these winning horses,” Franco said. “Thank you to my agent. He’s been doing a great job and he’s a part of it.”
Jockey Jeremy Laprida said Naval Aviator, who entered from a third-place finish in the Discovery on November 27 here, performed admirably to earn second money.
“He broke a little slow at the start, but he got good position and finished up strong,” Laprida said. “He had a lot of class today. Longer distances are good for him. Maybe next time.”
Law Professor started his career on the West Coast with conditioner Michael McCarthy, who captured the co-featured Jerome earlier on the card with Lugan Knight.
In December 2021, Law Professor won an off-the-turf edition of the Grade 2 Mathis Mile at Santa Anita ahead of three additional graded efforts for McCarthy topped by a runner-up effort in last year’s nine-furlong Grade 2 San Pasqual over the main track at the Arcadia, California oval.
The versatile fellow made his first start for Atras a winning one, taking the restricted Tapit over firm turf at Kentucky Downs in September ahead of his recent graded efforts.
Bred in Kentucky by his owner, Law Professor banked $82,500 in victory while improving his record to 14-5-2-1. He returned $4.20 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Sunday at the Big A with a nine-race card, featuring the $100,000 Say Florida Sandy in Race 8. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.