Trevor McCarthy (left) and Kendrick Carmouche (right) both return Friday (NYRA/Coglianese)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Friday’s eight-race program at Aqueduct Racetrack will see the return of jockeys Trevor McCarthy and Kendrick Carmouche, who both were away from racing action due to injury.
McCarthy sustained a broken collarbone and pelvic injury during a race on November 18, when his mount Ever Dangerous clipped heels with another horse. On Friday, he is slated to ride Battuta d’Oro [Race 3, 9-2] and Grace and Charm [Race 6, 9-2].
Although disappointed to have missed the bulk of the Aqueduct winter meet, where he won 54 races while finishing second in the standings a year ago, McCarthy said he is just delighted to be back.
“I was able to make a full recovery and everything healed up well, so I’m very blessed for that. I was able to spend some time with the family which is really nice around the holiday season,” said McCarthy. “We missed out on a mild winter, which was a shame since last year we were second leading rider. We were going into this winter with a lot of confidence and trying to be in that top three again. Things turned out differently, but at the same time, I’m just blessed to be back.”
McCarthy will have some chances to really hit the ground running upon return. In Saturday’s stakes action, he will ride Ziaerati in the $200,000 Busher for sophomore fillies as well as Slip Mahoney in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham. Both races are 50-20-15-10-5 qualifiers for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, respectively.
Trained by Robert Falcone, Jr. and owned by John Grossi’s Racing Corp., Michael Dubb, Elayne Stables Five and Adelphi Racing Club, Ziaerati has been tabbed the 9-5 morning line favorite in the Busher following an impressive first out maiden score here on January 15. Gold Square’s third-out maiden winner Slip Mahoney, trained by Brad Cox, has been made the 5-1 Gotham second choice.
McCarthy said he has been able to get acquainted with both of his mounts.
“Ziaerati looks very live in the spot that she’s in. She’s coming off a super big win last time,” McCarthy said. “I’ve loved her since the first day I sat on her and worked her. She had a super good work here and then the other day I worked her again and I couldn’t be happier going into the race. Slip Mahoney worked really well here the other day when I worked him the second time. I learned a whole lot about him.”
Carmouche, who last rode on February 2, suffered a hairline fracture in his right tibia after being stepped on by a horse he worked the following morning. On Friday, he is named the rider on Stone Creator [Race 4, 6-5], Ruvies in Time [Race 7, 3-1], and Heir Port [Race 8, 4-1].
Carmouche expressed similar delight to be returning to the saddle.
“You never want to get hurt at any part of the season, but this was the part that you really don’t want to get hurt,” Carmouche said. “I was doing so well, and everything was going the right way for me and my agent Jimmy Riccio. I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle and picking up where I left off. I was looking to get back on the fourth week and everything worked out where I got healed up in time. My agent was waiting on me to get the ‘Yes’ from the doctor. Once that happened, my agent worked well to get me my mounts.”
In Saturday stakes action, Carmouche is tabbed to ride maiden Check Engine Light for conditioner Jorge Abreu in the Busher, stakes-placed Clubhouse for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher in the Gotham as well as graded-stakes winner Runninsonofagun in the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap.
Carmouche piloted Runninsonofagun in 6-of-10 starts last year, including a victory in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler on October 29 at Belmont at the Big A. The talented Gun Runner gelding was also third in the Grade 2 Amsterdam and Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga Race Course for trainer John Toscano, Jr.
“Coming into Saratoga last year, we thought he would get better with age and he started getting better,” Carmouche said. “He just ran well for me. I think the race this weekend sets up for him. There’s some speed in there. I heard he’s been doing really well off the layoff. John Toscano and his family have done a great job with this horse, so hopefully we get a little lucky on Saturday.”
Carmouche expressed optimism in Starlight Racing and Harrell Ventures’ Clubhouse, who he piloted to an open-lengths maiden score here on January 14 going seven furlongs. He was previously a distant fifth going six furlongs over a sloppy and sealed Big A main track under Carmouche.
“I don’t think it had to do with the slop, he just didn’t care for the sprinting distance,” Carmouche said. “He never lost, but he never won either. I told Todd to stretch him out a little more, he likes to get his feet underneath him instead of being rushed off his feet that first quarter-mile. Going seven furlongs, it looks like that’s what he wants to do. When I rode him seven-eighths that gave me such a good feeling and he never stopped. He went pretty easily that day and he galloped out well. I don’t think the mile will be much to conquer with him.”