OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Agility will add blinkers for his first appearance since finishing second in the Rego Park when he contests Sunday’s $100,000 Damon Runyon for New York-bred sophomores sprinting seven furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Jorge Abreu, the son of Practical Joke has shown promise through three career starts against fellow state-breds, graduating at second asking in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight in December at the Big A. The field of nine maidens included Impressionist, who won his next two starts by a combined 14 lengths.
Agility made the step up to stakes company in his next outing to face winners for the first time in the Rego Park on January 9. Ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, the bay colt was held off the pace in third behind pacesetter Unique Unions and began to make his move entering the turn.
Under urging from Carmouche, Agility made up ground but was no match for winner Barese, finishing well to secure place honors by a neck over multiple stakes-placed Daufuskie Island. Barese went on to keep his perfect record intact in his next outing with a strong win in the one-mile Gander.
Abreu said Agility benefitted from a quick trip to Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Florida after the Rego Park.
“Off of that effort, I was going to run him in a stake [sooner] but he breezed in 1:04 here and that’s not a work that I want to run a horse in a stake off of,” Abreu said. “So, I gave him a couple weeks of galloping in Florida and I breezed him once there and he went nice. The next day, I shipped him back here.”
Dylan Davis, who will ride Agility for the first time from post 4, guided the 3-year-old through his latest work over the training track at Belmont, covering a half-mile in 49.22 seconds on March 2.
“He galloped out in 1:01 flat, which is good for the training track,” Abreu said. “He came back and it didn’t bother him. He’s doing really well.”
Out of the Running Stag mare Singing Doe, Agility is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-placed stakes winner Pain and Misery, who earned over $500,000 and captured three stakes victories in six seasons of racing. Singing Doe is a half-sister to Grade 1-placed stakes winner Awesome I Am, who finished third to Music Note in the Grade 1 Gazelle and won Aqueduct’s Restored Hope and Get Lucky in 2009.
Agility will face the improving Rotknee, who enters off an impressive state-bred optional claiming victory on February 11 for trainer Mike Maker.
A New York homebred for owner William J. Butler, Rotknee was a front-running maiden winner at second asking in August at Saratoga Race Course, hand ridden by Jose Ortiz to a 1 1/2-length victory.
The son of Runhappy was then given six months off before his return three-length romp under Manny Franco. The dark bay colt once again led at every point of call before swinging three-wide in the turn and widening his margins to cover the six furlongs in 1:13.57.
Rotknee worked a bullet five furlongs on March 5, breezing in 1:00.89 over the dirt training track at Belmont for the fastest time of 13 works that day.
Out of the Speightstown mare In Spite of Mama, Rotknee is a half-brother to multiple stakes-placed Lookin For Trouble, who Maker and Butler also campaign.
Franco gets the call again from the outermost post 5.
Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Best Idea will make his first appearance among winners after a 5 3/4-length debut win for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher on February 12 at the Big A.
A son of Honor Code, Best Idea was a $150,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Select Yearling Sale in 2020 and made his preparations for his first start at Palm Beach Downs before shipping to the Empire State in the beginning of February.
The bay ridgling was sent to the lead by Kendrick Carmouche on debut, dueling with Built to Last before breaking from his foe rounding the turn and extending his advantage to win comfortably. Best Idea was awarded a field-best 85 Beyer Speed figure for his effort.
Carmouche retains the mount from post 1.
Sunrise Stables homebred Mister Larry will look to rebound from a disappointing fifth last time in the optional claimer won by Rotknee, beaten 14 lengths after an easy maiden score on debut at the Big A on January 22.
Trained by Orlando Noda, the Frost Giant colt made easy work of a field of eight state-bred sophomores in his first outing, coming home five lengths clear of next-out winners Hot Rod Rumble and Juggler.
Eric Cancel gets the call from post 2.
Completing the field is Flanagan Racing’s G Munning [post 3, Trevor McCarthy], who cuts back after finishing seventh in the one-mile Gander last time out for trainer John Kimmel.
The Damon Runyon, named for the renowned journalist who enjoyed horse racing and dabbled in racehorse ownership, is slated as Race 6 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: 2020 Damon Runyon winner Dream Bigger under Junior Alvarado. (Chelsea Durand)