Plenty of Options for Law Professor Following Excelsior Win

April 2, 2023

Law Professor in the winner’s circle after his romp in the Excelsior (Susie Raisher)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Law Professor has plenty of options moving forward following his 4 1/4-length score in Saturday’s 111th running of the $125,000 Excelsior at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Law Professor overcame some eager moments through the first turn with a trio of contenders battling for the lead, but was able to track a swift pace set by Keystone Field before making a two-to-three-wide move under jockey Manny Franco and edging clear in the stretch.

Trainer Rob Atras reported the 5-year-old Constitution gelding was in good order following his impressive score in the nine-furlong test for older horses, where he equaled a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He cooled out well, and jogged nice this morning. He’s sound and he ate up everything, so that’s what you want to see,” Atras said.

Atras credited Franco for exercising good judgement aboard Law Professor, who he has now piloted to two stakes victories.

“Manny got him relaxed and in a good rhythm,” Atras said. “You could tell he was ranging up and finished up well. There were a couple of anxious moments going into that first turn, but Manny did a great job.”

Saturday’s win was Law Professor’s fourth lifetime stakes conquest, and third while under Atras’ tutelage. He captured the January 7 Queens County over the local surface, which also produced a 98 Beyer. In his debut for Atras, he won the restricted Tapit in September over the Kentucky Downs lawn. While under the care of Michael McCarthy, he captured the off-the-turf Grade 2 Santa Anita Mathis in December 2021.

Law Professor entered the Excelsior off a third-place finish to next-out graded stakes winners Last Samurai and West Will Power in the Grade 3 Razorback on February 18 at Oaklawn Park.

Atras said he would nominate the talented dark bay to multiple stakes events, including the nine-furlong Grade 2, $1 million Oaklawn Handicap on April 22.

“[Oaklawn Park racing secretary] Pat Pope called me up and said, ‘22 days, $1 million!’ We’ll nominate and take a look,” Atras said. “I would have to talk to Randy [Gullatt] from Twin Creeks about it. He would have to agree, and I would have to look at the race and think we would have a chance to win or at least be very competitive. It’s tough and expensive to ship.”

Given his dual surface versatility, the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy on May 6 going nine furlongs on the turf at Belmont Park could also be a viable option for Law Professor. The previous day at Belmont offers the Grade 3, $175,000 Westchester going a one-turn mile over the main track, which would mean a cut back in distance.

“It wouldn’t be out of the cards,” said Atras, when asked of a return to grass. “But he’s running so well on dirt right now, we kind of want to keep him there. He’s run some good numbers on grass as well though.”

Atras expressed no interest in the Grade 2, $250,000 Brooklyn on June 10 at Belmont Park, citing its 12-furlong distance.

“I don’t know if a mile and a half is him. I like more of a two-turn mile and an eighth for him,” Atras said. “We’ll probably nominate out of town and just try to pick the best spot. If we’re going to ship, we want to go somewhere where we can win, not just run for second or third.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Atras continued. “It’s nice to have a horse like this where you have options and you have to think about these things.”

Law Professor, a Kentucky homebred, is out of the Ghostzapper mare Haunted Heroine – a dual stakes winner on turf. His second dam Mona Mia produced Grade 1-winning turf millionaire Celestine.

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