Wudda U Think Now winning the Say Florida Sandy at Aqueduct Jan. 8 (Susie Raisher)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— The Elkstone Group’s multiple stakes-winner Wudda U Think Now will attempt to notch his third straight stakes victory for conditioner Rudy Rodriguez in Monday’s $100,000 Haynesfield, a one-turn mile for older New York-breds, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
A 6-year-old son of Fast Anna, Wudda U Think Now enters from a determined three-quarter-length score under Dylan Davis in the seven-furlong Say Florida Sandy on January 8 here, leading at every point of call and holding off a game Market Alert to stop the clock in a final time of 1:24.23. The effort garnered an 87 Beyer Speed Figure.
The Say Florida Sandy came on the heels of a dominant 3 1/4-length victory in the one-mile Alex M. Robb over a muddy and sealed Big A main track on December 17, his first start at that distance since March 2021 when taking a state-bred optional claimer by 2 1/4 lengths here. He made his last 12 outings at sprint distances, notching four victories that were capped by an open-lengths triumph in the Hollie Hughes at Aqueduct and the John Morrissey Handicap at Saratoga Race Course, both at six furlongs.
Rodriguez said he would prefer to keep Wudda U Think Now sprinting, but the charismatic gelding is ready for a race.
“I wish it was seven-eighths,” Rodriguez said, with a laugh. “But this is the next logical spot, and he ran a good race last time he went a mile, so hopefully he can give us another good effort and can duplicate his other efforts.”
Wudda U Think Now, bred by Mina Equivest, has posted four works over Belmont Park’s dirt training track since the Say Florida Sandy, most recently covering a half-mile in a sharp 49 seconds flat in company on Tuesday.
“He went nice for the half-mile and galloped out five-eighths,” Rodriguez said. “That’s all he needs, and we try to keep him happy. I think that was what we were looking for and he was comfortable.”
Wudda U Think Now winning the Alex M. Robb:
Rodriguez said a good break will be key for Wudda U Think Now, who could face pressure from the multiple stakes-winning Sea Foam.
“Hopefully he breaks sharp and that’s his weapon,” said Rodriguez. “We can’t let Sea Foam get away because that’s his main weapon, too, and he could break on the lead. So, if we can put our head in front, I think we’ll be OK.”
Davis returns to the irons from post 2.
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit will look to benefit from a quick tempo as he arrives from a gutsy third-place finish behind Wudda U Think Now in the Say Florida Sandy for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. There, the son of perennial leading New York sire Central Banker pounced from 2 1/2 lengths off the pace under Jose Lezcano, swinging four-wide in the turn to gain on Wudda U Think Now and Market Alert in the stretch and come up just shy of place honors a head back of Market Alert.
Bankit winning the 2022 Evan Shipman:
The consistent 7-year-old bay capped his 2022 season on a winning note, scoring a 3 1/4-length victory in the NYSSS Thunder Rumble on December 3 here. His productive campaign included a victory in the state-bred Evan Shipman Handicap by a nose over Sea Foam in August and a second-place finish in the off-the-turf West Point presented by Trustco Bank two weeks later, both at Saratoga Race Course.
Bred by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing, Bankit boasts field-high earnings of $1,270,405 through a record of 37-8-11-6, including seven stakes victories and two graded placings. Lezcano will ride again from post 5.
Ten Strike Racing, Four Corners Racing Stable, Broadview Stables and Cory Moelis Racing’s Sea Foam is in search of his first victory since the 2021 Alex M. Robb traveling nine-furlongs here.
Sea Foam winning the 2021 Alex M. Robb:
Trained by Michelle Giangiulio, the 8-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro was last seen finishing a distant fifth in the nine-furlong Queens County on January 7 after dueling for the early lead and fading to finish 10 1/4 lengths behind runaway winner Law Professor.
Sea Foam’s 7-year-old campaign began with his narrow Evan Shipman loss to Bankit as he attempted to defend his title in that event. He followed with a troubled trip to Pimlico Race Course in September where he stumbled at the start of the Polynesian before going on to finish a game fourth and second in the Empire Classic and Alex M. Robb, respectively.
Giangiulio said she expects Sea Foam to improve in his second start of the year.
“He tries every time,” Giangiulio said. “He hasn’t had a bad race except the one at Pimlico. He’s always put in 110 percent, so I can’t complain. He’s been a good horse.”
Like Wudda U Think Now, Sea Foam will face an unpreferred distance as he cuts back from the nine-furlong Queens County. Giangiulio said the bay’s running style is more suited to longer races.
“It’s not ideal, and they always run into more speed at a mile. It’s definitely easier for him to get to the front when it’s a longer race,” said Giangiulio.
Giangiulio, who earned the first win of her training career when Sea Foam won the 2021 Evan Shipman, said the veteran horse has shown no signs of slowing down.
Sea Foam winning the 2021 Evan Shipman:
“It seems like he gets better as he gets older,” Giangiulio said. “This is the best, physically, that I have ever had him. I had to give him some time off last year for some respiratory issues, but he’s been doing very well all winter. He hates a walk day and loves to train – he’s the same old Sea Foam and hasn’t changed a bit.”
Sea Foam, who was bred by Waterville Lake Stables, will be ridden by Jorge Vargas, Jr. from post 3.
Michael Caruso and Michael Dubb’s in-form Dr Ardito [post 4, Manny Franco] streaks in with five consecutive victories from six lifetime starts, most recently posting a gutsy head score in a local seven-furlong optional claimer facing open company on January 19.
Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, the 5-year-old son of Liam’s Map has earned Beyer Speed Figures in the mid-90s for his last three victories, topped by a 96 in a three-length optional claiming score against state-breds in April here.
His last outing ended an eight-month respite that came after a half-length allowance score in May at Belmont. The grey gelding, who was bred by Fred W. Hertrich, lll and John D. Fielding, has posted his five victories by a combined margin of 10 1/2 lengths.
Rounding out the field is Windylea Farm’s Full Moon Fever [post 1, Eric Cancel] for trainer Mark Hennig. Bred by Team West Side Stables and Ann Zabar, the son of Effinex was a winner of a one-mile state-bred allowance two starts back on December 9 and enters from an even third-place finish in a January 6 optional claimer. Full Moon Fever will make his stakes debut in his 21st-lifetime outing.
The Haynesfield is slated as Race 6 on Monday’s eight-race Presidents’ Day card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
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