Rodriguez brings formidable contingent to New York Claiming Championship Day as he seeks to wrap up training title

March 26, 2021

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Aqueduct winter meet-leading trainer Rudy Rodriguez will be well-represented in Saturday’s New York Claiming Championship series at Aqueduct Racetrack, with seven starters entered in total across five starter stakes.

Overall, the New York Claiming Championship series – open to horses which have started for a prescribed claiming price in 2020-21 – will offer 10 stakes worth $620,000. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

Rodriguez has a stranglehold on the trainer standings, carrying 35 wins into Friday’s action. Linda Rice is second at 24 wins, making Rodriguez poised to earn another training title as the 2020-21 winter meet concludes with Sunday’s card. It will mark Rodriguez’s first training title since the 2019 Aqueduct spring, and his 12th overall.

The conditioner, who turns 49 in May, praised NYRA’s Claiming Championship Day.

“It’s a good program that they do in New York,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been lucky to win in the past on days like this. It’s very special to run horses on a day like this and if they run well, it’s a plus.”

Rodriguez will saddle two in the day’s most lucrative stake, the $80,000 Caixa Eletronica for 4-year-olds and up going seven furlongs in Race 2.

Horseman Five’s Mad Munnys returns to the same distance as his third-place effort last out against optional claimers over a sloppy and sealed track on February 28 at the Big A.

His stablemate, Michael Dubb’s Pete’s Play Call, is also entered, looking to notch the second win of his 8-year-old campaign after winning the 6 1/2-furlong Gravesend on January 2 at Aqueduct.

“They both look like they’re doing good. It looks like it came up a tough race,” Rodriguez said. “But they’re both training great and we’re just hoping for a good, solid performance.”

Mad Munnys drew the inside post in the six-horse field, with jockey Reylu Gutierrez in the irons. The Munnings gelding won his 6-year-old bow on January 15 in a one-turn mile at the Big A.

“He always tries. He’s pretty solid, so we’re just happy he’s in the barn,” Rodriguez said. “I’m happy for the owners, too. They put a lot of money into the game.”

Pete’s Play Call will look to turn the tables on rival American Power on Saturday. Two starts back, Pete’s Play Call finished second, a half-length back to American Power, in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 30 at the Caixa Eletronica distance.

Last out, in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 6 going six furlongs, Pete’s Play Call finished fourth to Grade 1 Carter Handicap contender Chateau.

Pete’s Play Call exited the inside post in his last two starts but will break from post 5 on Saturday under Manny Franco.

“I was very happy with the post he drew this time,” Rodriguez said. “The last couple of times, he got on the inside and wasn’t too happy about it. Now, with an outside post, hopefully we’ll have a chance to see him run better.”

Gustavo Rodriguez and Andrew Gurdon’s Ryan’s Cat earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his 15 3/4-length romp against claiming company last out on March 7 going seven furlongs at the Ozone Park track and will look to build on that effort in the $70,000 Peeping Tom in Race 6.

The 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy was claimed for $20,000 out a fifth-place effort on February 14 and transferred from Chris Englehart to Rodriguez. Ryan’s Cat earned a triple digit figure for his new connections in dominating a four-horse field. On Saturday, he will look to duplicate that effort, drawing post 8 in a nine-horse field with Luis Cardenas set to ride.

“He ran a big race,” said Rodriguez. “I know it was a small field, but it looks like he’s training forwardly, so hopefully he gives us another big effort. When we claimed him, it looked like he was in trouble, but now, we’re just happy he’s training good.”

Rodriguez will also send out Malibu Mischief in the $55,000 Videogenic for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going six furlongs in the opening race. Malibu Pro and Supreme Aura will go in the $60,000 More To Tell for 4-year-olds and up competing at one mile in Race 7.

Aqueduct Press Release

Photo: Rudy Rodriguez with Dads Caps. (Adam Mooshian)

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