OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The New York Claiming Championship series returns for the sixth year on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack with 10 stakes worth $620,000.
The New York Claiming Championship is open to horses which have started for a prescribed claiming price in 2020-21. The 10-race series, each named after some of the most popular claiming horses to run at the Big A, features distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 3/8 miles.
Rob Atras will saddle three starters on the card, led by American Power in the $80,000 Caixa Eletronica, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up that drew a field of six in Race 2.
“It’s a really strong program. I think it’s good to have the spotlight on these types of horses, too,” said Atras. “I was hoping to have more horses in there, but we got out-shook on a few. It’s competitive out there right now.”
Atras credits a diverse stable of stakes winners, claimers and improving young horses for his strong Big A winter meet where he is currently third in the trainer standings with 20 wins.
“We have a nice mix of horses right now,” said Atras. “We’ve won a few optional-allowance races this winter and a few open claiming races, but we also have some decent young horses that are starting to come around. It’s exciting heading into the spring to have a diverse barn like that.”
Sanford and Irwin Goldfarb and the Estate of Ira Davis’ American Power, who was claimed for $40,000 last summer at Saratoga, extended his win streak to three last out by outkicking returning rival Pete’s Play Call for a half-length win in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan on January 30 at Aqueduct.
The 6-year-old Power Broker chestnut worked a half mile in company in 48.95 seconds Saturday on the Belmont dirt training track.
“It wasn’t fast, but he did it the right way,” said Atras. “He worked outside of an unraced maiden and they went head-and-head and we let him gallop out a little bit after.”
Kendrick Carmouche, who leads the Big A winter meet with 72 wins, retains the mount. Steep opposition is provided by Mad Munnys, True Palace, Home Run Maker, Pete’s Play Call and American Rule.
The $55,000 Videogenic for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at six furlongs kicks off the card in Race 1 featuring a field of five, headlined by multiple stakes placed New York-bred Fair Regis.
Trained and co-owned by Jeffrey Englehart with Randy Rentz, the 7-year-old Bustin Stones bay romped to an 11-length win last out in a state-bred $25,000 claiming sprint on February 26 at Aqueduct. Pablo Morales will ride.
Opposition will be provided by Lem Me Have It, Rude Awakening, Ruvies in Time and Malibu Mischief.
Madam Meena has won two consecutive starts, posting scores at Parx and Laurel, and will look to go 3-for-3 at three different tracks for conditioner Jamie Ness in the $75,000 Xtra Heat in a 6 1/2-furlong contest for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up in Race 3.
The Michelle Nevin-trained Sweet Mia enters off a 10-length romp on March 7 at the Big A, while Letmetakethiscall has compiled a 7-2-1 record in 15 starts racing in Ozone Park. Dovey Lovey and Lady by Choice also have wins at the track in their careers.
The sixth running of the $55,000 Kelly Kip in Race 4 for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs will feature a field of six led by the Atras-trained multiple graded stakes placed Storm Advisory. Storm Advisory won the 2017 King Cotton at Oaklawn Park for Atras’ former boss Robertino Diodoro.
The 9-year-old Weigelia gelding, who was claimed for $12,500 from an off-the-board effort on January 30, earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure in a two-length win on March 13 in a $16,000 claiming sprint in his first start for new connections.
“It’s a little quick back but he fits,” said Atras.
Carmouche has the call from the outside post. Also contesting the Kelly Kip are Pennsylvania Steel, Summer Bourbon, Square Shooter, Bears Mafia and Spikes Shirl.
Aqueduct mainstays will once again return to familiar surroundings, with a field of seven in fillies and mares 4-years-old and up in a seven-furlong sprint in the $45,000 Belle Gallantey in Race 5.
Movie Score, trained by Oscar Barrera, bested claimers at the Big A on February 8 and ran second last out in a six-furlong sprint on February 25, while the Carlos Soto-trained Caramel Cream was a last-out winner on February 23 at Parx before shipping into New York. Lovely Lady Lexi, Whyisshesoolucky, Dirty Bird and Dublinornothin have also registered Aqueduct wins in their respective careers.
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez will saddle Gustavo Rodriguez and Andrew Gurdon’s Ryan’s Cat for the $70,000 Peeping Tom in Race 6 going 6 1/2 furlongs for 4-year-olds and upward.
Ryan’s Cat arrives off a superb effort last out for a $25,000 tag on March 7, where he recorded a 100 Beyer Speed Figure with a 15 3/4-length victory in the seven-furlong race. The son of Kitten’s Joy boasts a consistent 20-4-6-0 record and earnings of $143,185.
Ryan’s Cat will be ridden by Luis Cardenas. Rounding out the field are Rejected Again, Twelfth Labour, Cause for Action, Family Biz, The Great Dansky, Latin Love Bug, Zaevion, and Clench.
A veteran field of nine 4-year-olds and up competing at a one-turn mile in Race 7 comprise the $60,000 More To Tell.
Supreme Aura has found a comfort zone since Rudy Rodriguez picked up the training duties, running second in each her first two starts this year at Aqueduct, posting an 89 Beyer for her runner-up effort at a one-turn mile on February 20. Dark Storm, also a winner at one mile over the track, returns for trainer George Weaver, along with fellow competitors Eagle Pass, Chief Know It All, Durkin’s Call, Control Group, Tivano, Dark Storm and second Rodriguez trainee Malibu Pro.
Mia Bella Rossa has started her 7-year-old campaign 3-for-3 with a trio of consecutive allowance scores at Parx and will return to Aqueduct for the first time since 2019 in the $60,000 Sis City going a one-turn mile for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up in Race 8.
Trained by Scott Lake, Mia Bella Rossa will face a full field that includes Miss Mi Mi, third last out in a seven-furlong allowance tilt on March 5 in her first start for trainer Michael Miceli. Flat Awesome Jenny, a winner at Aqueduct in a claiming tilt on January 31, will also go for trainer John Toscano, Jr.
Bringing a three-race win streak into the $75,000 Stud Muffin in Race 9, a 1 3/8-mile endurance test for 4-year-olds an upward is Doubly Blessed for trainer Mike Maker.
Owned by Kirk Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm, the Empire Maker gelding has done no wrong since switching from turf to dirt while taking gradual steps up the condition ladder. After a successful dirt debut on January 2 over a muddy track for a $16,000 tag, Doubly Blessed took things up a notch against starter allowance company on January 24 before winning a first level allowance tilt on February 21. All three races took place at Aqueduct going a one-turn mile.
“Mike had his mother [Via Villaggio] and she was thought to be a turf horse and ended up being a better dirt horse,” said Three Diamonds Farm racing manager Jordan Wycoff. “He always worked well on dirt, but he had shown some promise on the grass. He had some tendency to lug in on the grass and the change in surface woke him up.”
Atras will try to keep his highly prosperous meet rolling when he sends out Michael Dubb’s Musical Heart. The son of Maclean’s Music was third beaten one length in the Stymie last out and was a distant second to Backsideofthemoon in the Queens County on December 19. Manny Franco has the call aboard Musical Heart.
Rounding out the field are Villainous, Heirloom Kitten, Lost in Rome, Shooger Ray Too, Forest Fire, Flowers for Lisa, Ekhtibaar, American Lincoln, Super Dude, and Air Attack.
The $45,000 Dads Caps, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses, closes out the card in Race 10.
Skyler’s Scramjet will look to build off a February 27 triumph going the Dads Caps distance over a sloppy track at the Big A. Trained by A.C. Avila, the 7-year-old Creative Cause gray or roan gelding won the Grade 3 Tom Fool in 2018 and boasts the highest bankroll in the field with more than a half-million in lifetime earnings.
Skyler’s Scramjet will leave from post 3 under Pablo Morales.
Also arriving off a win is Town Jak, who ships from Parx Racing for trainer Alan Bedard. The six-time winner has finished in the money in his last dozen starts, the most recent of which was a half-length victory on March 16 at Parx, where he defeated starter allowance company.
Completing the field are Vicar’s Legend, Fox Red, Fleet Warrior, Real Dan, Direct Order, Swiping Dan, The Queens Jules, My Train, Seven Lilies, and Honorable Service.
First post time for Saturday at Aqueduct is 1:20 p.m.