Catching up on the Latest Racing News with Past the Wire
- Max Player steps onto the scene with G3 Withers win
- Tiz the Law puts Sackatoga Stables, Tagg back in the spotlight
- O’Dwyer considering G3 Gotham and G2 Fountain of Youth for Shotski
- Casse says Sir Winston could use Aqueduct win as a springboard to G1 Dubai World Cup
- Mind Control, Joevia back on the work tab after successful 2019 debuts
- Vanzzy in good order following G3 Withers
- Mr. Shortandsimple doing well after being eased in G3 Withers
- Sixto possible for G3 Gotham
- Newstome pleasant surprise for Trombetta; Independence Hall breezes for Sam F. Davis
- Englehart gearing up returns for My Italian Rabbi; Pat On the Back
- Cross Country Pick 5 pays $10K
- Aqueduct Winter Week 6 Stakes Probables
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – George Hall’s Max Player, trained by Linda Rice and patiently piloted by Dylan Davis, proved resilient in overcoming a difficult trip to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Sent to post at odds of 5-1, Max Player was in tight and on the heels of Mr. Shortandsimple taking significant kickback into the first turn before Davis gathered up the dark bay Honor Code colt and angled him outside for smoother sailing.
Settled wide in fifth position, Max Player grinded his way into contention through the final turn, rallying outside of Monday Morning Qb and finding his best stride late to put away Grade 2 Remsen-winner Shotski by a commanding 3 ¼-lengths.
“He’s not seasoned enough to handle the kickback yet. He hasn’t handled it well, but Dylan did a good job of keeping him close enough to contention and getting him outside to where he could get comfortable,” said Rice.
Bred by Hall’s children, George and Katherine Hall, Max Player garnered an 86 Beyer Speed Figure and 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in victory.
Rice said the colt was in good order on Sunday morning and will target the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 4 at Aqueduct, where 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby points will be available to the top-four finishers in the nine-furlong test.
“He looks good this morning,” said Rice. “He came out of the race great and looks happy and playful. We’ll head on to the Wood Memorial.”
The next step on the New York path to the Kentucky Derby is the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile on March 7 offering 50-20-10-5 points, but Rice said she prefers to continue at a distance of ground with the improving colt.
“I really don’t want to shorten him up in the Gotham. I don’t think that serves our purposes,” said Rice. “We’re happier to stay here and train into the Wood and go from there.”
Max Player made his first two starts at Parx, finishing second in his November 12 debut before drawing clear to a 4 ¼-length score over next-out winner Irish Cork on December 17.
Rice said the colt, who raced greenly through kickback at Parx, showed marked improvement on Saturday.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement in him in the last sixty days. In the sixty days before that, he was moving forward by leaps and bounds and yesterday was a great experience for him,” said Rice. “Hopefully he’ll continue to improve in the next 60 days prior to the Wood, because he’s certainly going to have to be at the top of his game in that caliber of race.”
The well-bred Max Player became the first stakes winner for 2015 Eclipse Award-winning older horse Honor Code, who closed from out of the clouds to capture the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap and Grade 1 Whitney that year.
Max Player’s second dam, Parlez, produced multiple graded-stakes winner International Star who swept the Fair Grounds preps for the Derby in 2015 only to scratch heading into the first Saturday in May with a hoof issue.
Rice said she is buoyed by the solid pedigree of her improving pupil.
“Honor Code was a late-closing type as well and Max Player seems to take after his father,” said Rice. “Honor Code closed to win the Whitney going a mile and an eighth and he was 20 lengths out of it.”
Hall has previous Triple Crown success with Ruler on Ice, who captured the 2011 Belmont Stakes. Earlier that year, their multiple graded-stakes winner Pants On Fire finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby.
Rice, who recently saddled her 2,000th career winner, added her 200th career stakes win with yesterday’s score. She is currently the leading trainer at the Big A winter meet in both wins (30) and purse money ($1,496,806), and said she’s hoping to secure another milestone in May with a first Derby starter.
“Well, we found ourselves on the Derby trail as of yesterday,” laughed Rice. “That’s something that’s been on my bucket list, so we’re excited about that. Hopefully, that will come to fruition.”
Rice also saddled Darlene Bilinski and Harry Patten’s Prince of Pharoahs to a sixth-place finish in the Withers. The dark bay American Pharoah colt graduated at second asking in October at Belmont and was second to undefeated Independence Hall in the Jerome on New Year’s Day at the Big A.
Rice said the distance was a factor in Saturday’s result and she could consider the Gotham for a next start.
“I believe the distance might have been too far for him,” said Rice. “We’ll shorten him up and see how much time he needs between races.”
The stakes action will continue next weekend for Rice when she sends out maiden winner Montauk Traffic for Chris Fountoukis and multiple stakes-winning New York-bred Newly Minted for Beach Haven Thoroughbreds.
Montauk Traffic, a Kentucky-bred Cross Traffic grey, dwelt at the start in his December 14 debut at Laurel Park but showed some promise when galloping out well. He followed up with a smart 4 1/2-length score on December 28 when sprinting seven furlongs at Aqueduct.
He is pointed to the seven-furlong on Saturday Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct.
“I ran him back on short rest after the debacle in Maryland,” said Rice. “We were all frustrated with that circumstance and we managed to correct it quickly. We’ve been looking at the Winkfield as a possibility for him and he’s been training very nicely.”
The well-bred Montauk Traffic is out of the graded-stakes winning dam Taittinger Rose and Rice said the colt has the potential to be a good one.
“I think there is (potential),” said Rice. “He lacks experience, obviously. The first time things went very poorly. He needs some seasoning, but we’re excited about his future.”
Newly Minted, a 4-year-old Central Banker bay bred by Chester and Mary Broman, has won 5-of-8 starts with purse earnings in excess of $400,000. She has won from six furlongs at first asking up to nine furlongs – when nine lengths the best in the Fleet Indian on August 23 at Saratoga – and will make her next start in Sunday’s one-turn mile.
Newly Minted ran fourth in the Empire Distaff in October at Belmont but fell in the gallop out, requiring some time off. She returned with a strong second in a December 8 allowance at Aqueduct and returned on December 22 to annex a Big A allowance field by 7 ¼-lengths.
“She’s doing fine,” said Rice. “We raced her two weeks apart last time, so I’ve been taking it easy with her. She’ll be ready for the Biogio’s Rose and we’re excited about that.
“She’s had a couple missteps here and there, having broke poorly in the allowance race on December 8,” continued Rice. “But she recovered to run second to a nice filly in Bridlewood Cat.”
Tiz the Law puts Sackatoga Stables back in action:
Sackatoga Stables’ Managing Partner Jack Knowlton never imagined he would be back at the top level he experienced with 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, but fast forward 17 years later and he’s campaigning one the leading contenders for the Run for the Roses in Tiz the Law.
Trained by Barclay Tagg, who also conditioned Funny Cide, Tiz the Law made his anticipated sophomore debut a winning one in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. The chestnut son of Constitution broke alertly from the gate under jockey Manny Franco, took back a few lengths before moving to the outside down the backstretch and made a winning bid at the far turn to win by three lengths. He earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure in victory.
Tiz the Law garnered 10 points from the win, placing him second on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 22 points. He previously acquired 10 points by winning the Grade 1 Champagne in October at Belmont Park, and two points from a close third-place effort in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs – his lone loss in four career starts.
“It’s hard to believe that we’re in the same position after all of the success that we had with Funny Cide. It was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Knowlton.
Bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm, Tiz the Law dazzled in his Saratoga career debut against his Empire State-bred counterpart, registering a 90 Beyer Speed Figure while defeating subsequent dual stakes winner Dream Bigger in the process.
“Last summer at Saratoga he ran brilliant in his first start,” said Knowlton. “He won the Champagne and all of a sudden he’s a horse that’s a leading contender for the Derby. We were a bit disappointed in the race in Kentucky but that happens in racing. Things don’t always go your way.”
Franco was instructed to keep Tiz the Law off the rail in the early stages of Saturday’s race, but heading into the first turn he found himself tracking the pace to the inside. Franco was able to maneuver Tiz the Law three-wide with about half the journey covered.
“He probably lost three to four lengths in doing so but Manny knew what he was doing,” Knowlton said. “He flew down twice to work him and his last work at Palm Meadows [a half-mile work in 48 flat on January 26] was brilliant. He galloped out like a good horse.”
Tiz the Law will likely follow a similar path to the First Saturday in May that Funny Cide did and target the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 21 at Fair Grounds Race Course. Funny Cide was third in the Louisiana Derby following a fifth-place finish in the Holy Bull.
“That’s on our radar screen,” said Knowlton, noting that the long stretch at Fair Grounds and the 1 3/16-mile distance are factors in pointing to the Louisiana Derby.
Knowlton said Tiz the Law would not have a start in between the Holy Bull and Louisiana Derby, which are seven weeks apart.
“We’re going to follow the trend that less is more and to space your races out,” Knowlton said. “We want to have a nice horse that will hopefully run through the Triple Crown series as well as Saratoga in the summer.”
While Tiz the Law will likely take the same path that Funny Cide did towards the Kentucky Derby, their 2-year-old campaigns were quite different. Unbeaten during his freshman campaign, Funny Cide won the Bertram Bongard and Sleepy Hollow against New York-breds and never faced graded stakes company, while Tiz the Law became a Grade 1 winner in only his second start.
“Funny Cide had brilliant speed. He won the Bongard with a triple digit Beyer,” Knowlton said. “Both had tactical speed and we saw that yesterday. He shot right out of the gate. He loves having a target to run at. His running style is stalk and pounce. Tiz the Law has that burst we saw in the Champagne and at Saratoga.”
O’Dwyer considering G3 Gotham and G2 Fountain of Youth for Shotski
Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, Pantofel Stable and Mike Karty’s Shotski earned an 82 Beyer for his runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Withers.
Trained by Jeremiah O’Dwyer, the bay son of Blame was a convincing winner of the Grade 2 Remsen at nine furlongs on December 7 at the Big A and was brave down the lane on Saturday after setting a pressured pace in the Withers.
O’Dwyer said Shotski was in fine fettle on Sunday.
“He came out of the race good. I’m very happy with him and we’ll give him a couple of easy days before heading back to the track,” said O’Dwyer.
O’Dwyer said both the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/16-mile test on February 29 at Gulfstream Park are under consideration for Shotski’s next start.
“I spoke with Mr. Wachtel and he mentioned the Gotham and maybe the Fountain of Youth. There’s a couple options in the pipeline,” said O’Dwyer. “We’ll let the dust settle and make a plan over the next couple of days.”
After a pair of nine-furlong efforts, O’Dwyer said a cutback to a one-turn mile for the Gotham could suit Shotski.
“I think he’ll be fine over a mile. He ran well going a one-turn mile at Churchill,” said O’Dwyer, noting Shotski’s strong fourth in the Street Sense on October 27. “He has the speed to be up there with them tactically. We’ll nominate him
Casse says Sir Winston could use Aqueduct win as a springboard to G1 Dubai World Cup
Tracy Farmer’s Sir Winston won his first race since capturing last year’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, rallying from last-of-seven to capture his 4-year-old debut in a one-mile allowance race on Friday at Aqueduct.
The “Test of the Champion” victor made his first start in more than six months when he finished last-of-12 at one mile over yielding Fair Grounds turf on December 28. In his first main-track appearance since the Belmont Stakes, Sir Winston impressed trainer Mark Casse when earning a 94 Beyer Speed Figure for his 2 ¼-length win over Musical America.
“He came out of it good. I was extremely pleased with his effort because I thought it maybe might have been a little short,” Casse said. “He didn’t get much out of his first race back off the long layoff, so I was a little concerned. He ran beyond my expectations. I know it was an allowance race, but he beat a lot of nice horses and did it convincingly. So, if he’s healthy, I think he’ll have a great 2020.”
The start to the campaign could facilitate a quick return to top-level competition, with the Group 1, $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 28 at Meydan remaining the target, Casse said. Sir Winston could make another start at Aqueduct before targeting the world’s second-richest horse race, with the $100,000 Bernardini at 1 5/16 miles on February 29 remaining a possibility as a tune-up, though Casse said he remains more inclined to use his win as a springboard to the 2,000-meter Dubai World Cup.
“We’re looking at the Bernardini and we’re definitely looking at the Dubai World Cup, so we’ll look at either going straight to Dubai. My thought was that the Bernardini could set him up well,” said Casse. “But now, I’m not saying the Bernardini is completely out, but I’m leaning more towards just going straight to Dubai since he gave us such a big effort. That’s something Mr. Farmer and I will talk about, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Live Oak Plantation’s Old Chestnut, who has made five of his six career starts on turf, will be moved to the main track in his 3-year-old bow in Saturday’s Jimmy Winkfield.
After finishing out of the money in three consecutive stakes starts, Old Chestnut will compete in the seven-furlong sprint in his first start on dirt and first non-turf appearance since running fifth over Woodbine’s synthetic surface on July 7 in his career debut.
“He’s trained well enough over the dirt and there aren’t a whole lot of options out there right now on the grass,” Casse said. “We wanted to go ahead and find out sooner rather than later about the dirt and see how he does. We need to find out where we are. If he’s just turf, it’s better to find out now.”
The son of Speightstown broke his maiden at second asking on August 9 at Woodbine and won his first stakes at the same track in the Ontario Racing on September 15.
Gary Barber’s Got Stormy, who won two Grade 1s in 2019 and finished second to Uni in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, continues to train forwardly as she prepares for her first start of her 5-year-old season in the Grade 3, $175,000 Endeavour on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Get Stormy mare won the Grade 1 Fourstardave in August at Saratoga Race Course and capped her season with a three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 1 Matriarch on December 1 at Del Mar.
Got Stormy finished second in three graded stakes last year, including runner-up to Beau Recall in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. She finished a half-length back to El Tormenta in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and 1 ½-lengths back to fellow mare and eventual Eclipse Award Female Turf-winner Uni in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 2 at Santa Anita.
“She’s something special,” Casse said.
Mind Control, Joevia back on the work tab after successful 2019 debuts
Trainer Gregg Sacco sent out two-time Grade 1 winner Mind Control and Joevia, third in last year’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, for their first respective breezes since winning their respective 2019 debuts.
Under mostly cloudy skies at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, Mind Control went three furlongs in 36.05 seconds in his first breeze since a victory in the Grade 3 Toboggan at Aqueduct Racetrack, where he held off late rallies from graded stakes winners Nicodemus and Sunny Ridge to win by a nose. The effort garnered a career-best 98 Beyer.
Owned by Stephen Brunetti’s Red Oak Stable in partnership with Sol Kumin and Jason Monteleone’s Madaket Stable, Mind Control scored both of his Grade 1 victories at Saratoga when taking the Hopeful as a 2-year-old and winning last year’s edition of the H. Allen Jerkens, which was his last start before winning the Toboggan.
“He went three eights in 36, galloped out a half-mile in 48 and change and five eighths in 1:01,” said Sacco. “He really worked super. He came out of the Toboggan really, really well. It looks like he cooled out at the barn really well so we’re very pleased with the post-work since his race.”
While the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap on April 4 remains the main target for the son of Stay Thirsty, Sacco did not rule out racing him one more time beforehand and noted that the horse has displayed high energy.
“The Carter is the main plan with maybe one in between,” Sacco said. “The [$125,000] Stymie [on March 7 at Aqueduct] was on the radar. We just have to talk to my brother Rick Sacco [Red Oak Stable’s Racing Manager] and Steve Brunetti and see what they come up with. It might be a problem holding him down for the Carter, he’s really sharp.”
Jeff and Michael Fazio’s Joevia hit the Belmont training track at 8 a.m. and went a half-mile in 48.88 for his first work since winning a 6 1/2-furlong allowance event over the Aqueduct main track on January 17.
“They’re two different horses,” Sacco said of Joevia and Mind Control. “It was a maintenance work. [Joevia] is a little lazier by himself. We usually work him in company when we get serious. I’m very happy with the way he worked. I’m really pleased with both horses.”
Sacco previously mentioned the Stymie as a next out option for Joevia, but said that he would not run his two stable stars against one another. Should Mind Control opt for the Stymie, Joevia could take his show on the road and point for the Grade 3, $500,000 Razorback Handicap on February 22 at Oaklawn Park.
“I wouldn’t run the two together,” Sacco said. “The owners are also thinking about running him in the Razorback. We’ll see how his next work goes and take it from there.”
Vanzzy in good order following G3 Withers
Trainer Michael Pino said Daniel Ryan’s Vanzzy was in good order on Sunday morning after being eased to the wire in the Grade 3 Withers.
Vanzzy, who entered the Withers off a half-length score in the Display at Woodbine, was sitting second on the flank of Shotski through three-quarters of a mile in the Withers. The Verrazzano colt was moving well through the final turn when New Commission made a move his outside and suddenly Vanzzy began to drop back under wraps by Junior Alvarado.
“He cooled out good, scoped good and jogged on down the road good,” said Pino. “He’s fine this morning. The jockey said he felt a bit of a short stride and grabbed him.
“He’s a funny horse. When that horse came outside him, he might have come out of the bit and his stride felt funny so he grabbed him,” continued Pino. “But, at one point, I thought we were looking good. He seemed very comfortable.”
Vanzzy, bred in Kentucky by Alexander-Groves Thoroughbreds, made his first three starts at his Parx base, debuting in September in a strong maiden tilt won by the undefeated graded-stakes winner Independence Hall. He graduated at second asking in a one-mile maiden event on October 14 and was second in the Parx Juvenile to Mischevious Alex, a seven-length winner of Saturday’s Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park.
Pino said he will take a wait-and-see approach with Vanzzy before contemplating a next start.
“The main thing is to see that he is good in his training and right now I’m confident that he is,” said Pino. “For now, I’m just trying to get over the whole deal. It’s not an easy game.”
Pino saddled Shadwell Stable’s Ashraq to a half-length score over Withers winner Max Player on November 12 in a one-mile main track event at Parx, but the Medaglia d’Oro ridgling was off-the-board in the Central Park last out over 1 1/16-miles of yielding Big A turf.
“He was doing good but we had to give him a little break and he’s back in training now,” said Pino. “He’s a really talented horse. I’m thinking grass for him. We’ll give him some time and likely see him back in a couple months.”
Mr. Shortandsimple doing well after being eased in G3 Withers
Mr. Shortandsimple is doing well the day after being eased in the Grade 3, Withers, owner and trainer Rudy Rodriguez said Sunday morning.
Making his first stakes appearance in his sixth career start, and first around two turns on the main track in the 1 1/8-mile route, Reylu Gutierrez eased him before the wire; a move Rodriguez said was precautionary.
“He looks good. Reylu said he got pretty tired and he was trying to protect him,” Rodriguez said. “But he came back good and looked good this morning. Probably the distance was a little too much for him right now.”
A winner of two of his first four starts, Mr. Shortandsimple was victorious in his previous start to the Withers, edging Money Ride by a nose in a one-mile claiming race on December 30 at Aqueduct. Rodriguez said the son of Pioneerof the Nile does not have a next spot picked out.
“I’ll take it day-by-day right now,” he said.
Salerno Stables’ War Stopper, initially considered a possibility for the Withers, will train up to the Grade 3 Gotham. The Declaration of War colt registered a maiden-breaking victory at fourth asking on January 11 at Aqueduct and continues to work towards his stakes debut, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.36 on the Belmont Park dirt training track on Thursday.
“So far, that’s the plan,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll continue to see how he’s doing and make the best decision for us. He had a pretty good work in and continues to train very good. We’re hoping he keeps improving and we’ll take it from there.”
War Stopper, who finished out of the money on turf in his first two starts, ran fifth his in main track debut at one mile at the Big A on December 7. Making his 3-year-old debut, he rebounded to lead a six-horse field gate-to-wire for a four-length score at one mile earlier this month, earning a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.
Sixto possible for G3 Gotham
Following a first-out graduation going six furlongs on Thursday afternoon at 13-1 odds at the Big A, trainer Eric Guillot reported that Southern Equine Stable’s Sixto would likely point to the Grade 3 Gotham.
The dark bay son of Curlin broke a step slow and sat a close third under jockey Reylu Gutierrez and received his cue approaching the far turn. Coming under a three-wide drive at the top of the stretch, Sixto was in command just a few strides before the sixteenth-pole and drew away to a 1 ¾-length score which garnered an 82 Beyer.
“That’s likely where we’ll go,” Guillot said of the one-turn mile at the Big A. “I think he’s going to be a nice horse. He’s named after my number one travelling man over the years, Sixto Chavez. He’s been my main man with a lot of Grade 1 horses. We’ll see what the race looks like when the time goes and take it from there.”
Guillot previously saddled Laoban to a runner-up effort in the 2016 Gotham, which was won by Shagaf.
Bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich and John D Fielding, Sixto was acquired from the inaugural Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last June, where he was purchased for $250,000 from King’s Equine consignment. A half-brother to stakes winner and multiple graded-stakes placed Catch My Drift, Sixto is out of the Yonaguska broodmare Drift to the Lead.
“He had a twinkle in his eye and a good look to him,” Guillot said. “He’s a late May foal and was a little immature, so that probably scared some people away from him.”
Newstome pleasant surprise for Trombetta; Independence Hall breezes for Sam F. Davis
Speaking from his winter base in Tampa, Florida, conditioner Mike Trombetta is keeping a watchful eye on Kentucky Derby contender Independence Hall as he prepares to make his next start in the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
Independence Hall posted back-to-back stakes wins in New York in the Grade 3 Nashua and the Jerome for Trombetta, who is also preparing to send another talented 3-year-old colt to the Big A with Newstome for Saturday’s Jimmy Winkfield.
Purchased for $30,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Mid Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in training sale, the Pennsylvania-bred Newstome is sired by multiple stakes winner Goldencents. Owned by Trombetta’s wife Marie, Newstome won impressively on debut by 4 ¾ lengths on August 3 at Parx before making the switch to turf, where he finished seventh in the Rosie’s on August 31 at Colonial Downs.
Newstome returned to dirt off that effort and recorded back-to-back stakes wins in the Mark McDermott at Presque Isle Downs in October and the James F. Lewis III at Laurel Park in November. Last out, he stretched out to seven furlongs for the first time in when third in the Pennsylvania Nursery on December 7 at Parx.
Trombetta said he hopes Newstome can continue to improve in his second try at seven furlongs.
“We’ve been delighted with him and he’s certainly exceeded our expectations,” said Trombetta. “His preference is probably going three-quarters, where he’s two-for-two, but those races are hard to come by so we’ll aim him for Saturday at Aqueduct and see how everything shapes out.”
Trombetta said Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, and Robert and Kathleen Veratti’s Independence Hall, unbeaten in three starts, continues to do well ahead of Saturday’s test.
He breezed four furlongs in 48.60 seconds on Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs in his last major work head of the Sam F. Davis.
“He’s continuing to train well and we’re looking forward to Saturday and on schedule for the Sam F. Davis,” said Trombetta.
The Constitution colt is currently in eleventh place on the Kentucky Derby points leader board and will stretch out to two-turns for the first time in the 1 1/16 miles Sam F. Davis. Jose Ortiz, aboard for his last two wins, will have the return call said Trombetta.
Englehart gearing up returns for My Italian Rabbi; Pat On the Back
Gold Square’s multiple-stakes winner My Italian Rabbi recorded her first work of the year on Friday, breezing three furlongs in 39.59 seconds over the Belmont Park training and will be pointed to a March return, trainer Jeremiah Englehart said.
The 3-year-old Competitive Edge filly, bred in New York by Hidden Lake Farm and Anthony Grey, is coming off a productive juvenile campaign in 2019 in which she won three races from five starts including scores in the Stillwater at Saratoga Race Course and the Lady Finger at Finger Lakes.
“She recently came back to us after some time off at Webb Carroll Training Center in South Carolina,” said Englehart. “She’s really filled out well and shown good energy. We’re excited to have her back and we’ll target a race sometime in early March for her return.”
Englehart also reported graded-stakes winner Pat On the Back for owners Harold Lerner, AWC Stables, and Nehoc Stables has also made his return to Englehart’s Belmont division following a winter break at Webb Carroll Training Center.
The 6-year-old millionaire, bred in the Empire State by Sugar Maple Farm, will launch his campaign in March or April.
Sired by Congrats, Pat On the Back won three races from six starts in 2019 including a half-length score in the Grade 2 Kelso in September at Belmont, where he also posted restricted stakes scores in the Commentator and Affirmed Success.
He was freshened following an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on December 7 at Aqueduct.
“He seems to have recouped well from his time off at Webb Carroll,” said Englehart. “He’s started to gallop in the mornings for us at Belmont and looks well.
Once we figure our plans we’ll target a race in March to April for him.”
Englehart moved a string of horses this winter to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Grade 3 Pilgrim-winner Forty Under ran third on Friday in an allowance race while trying dirt for the first time.
It was the first start for the 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt, owned by August Dawn Farm, since running seventh in the Woodchopper on December 28 at Fair Grounds.
Englehart said he was satisfied enough with the performance to try Forty Under on the dirt again soon.
“He was a little keen early on and went a little quicker than I thought he would,” said Englehart. “Overall, I don’t think it was a bad performance at all in his first start on the dirt. He certainly earned himself another chance where hopefully he can rate, but he showed enough and it was encouraging enough to bring him back to try him on it again.”
Cross Country Pick 5 pays $10K
Saturday’s Cross Country Pick 5, which featured the opening two legs at Aqueduct and the final three at Oaklawn, returned $10,394.75 for the 50-cent wager, with a total pool of $97,843.
The Grade 3 Withers kicked off the sequence at Aqueduct in Race 8, with Max Player drawing away after a strong stretch-drive move from the outside for a 3 ¼-length win, returning $12.80 on a $2 win wager. O Shea Can U See then capped the card at the Big A, along with the second leg in the Pick 5, with a two-length score in a 6 ½-furlong sprint. The favorite paid $4.80.
Action then switched to Oaklawn, with Curate ($7.00) winning a six-furlong allowance race. Special Relativity ($14.00) then won the American Beauty in Race 8, and Grit and Curiosity ($55.40) provided the big-priced finish at 26-1 to end the sequence in Race 9.
The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is also available on track, on ADW platforms, and at simulcast facilities across the country. Every week will feature a mandatory payout of the net pool.
The Cross Country Pick 5 will continue each Saturday throughout the year. For more information, visit NYRABets.com.
Aqueduct Winter Week 6 Stakes Probables
Saturday, February 8
$100,000 Jimmy WinfieldProbable: Johnny Ritt (Robert Reid, Jr.); Laddie Liam (Gary Contessa); Montauk Traffic (Linda Rice); Newstome (Michael Trombetta); Old Chestnut (Mark Casse); Secret Rules (Bill Mott)Possible: Quixotic (Jonathan Thomas)
Sunday, February, 9
$100,000 Biogio’s RoseProbable: Espresso Shot (Jorge Abreu); Held Accountable (Phil Serpe); Mrs. Orb (Michael Miceli); Newly Minted (Linda Rice); No Hayne No Gayne (Steve Asmussen); Our Super Nova (Charlton Baker); Out of Orbit (Phil Serpe)
Via NYRA Press Release