Friday, November 21, 2014

Fields taking shape for holiday week stakes at Aqueduct

Friday, November 21, 2014


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Fields taking shape for holiday week stakes at Aqueduct


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Fields are taking shape for next week's star-studded action, which features six graded stakes worth $2.3 million and culminates with the centerpiece of the fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack - the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on November 29.


The prestigious one-mile dirt race is likely to attract a diverse group of horses from all over the country, led by California invaders Secret Circle and last year's runner-up, Private Zone.


Secret Circle is without a win in 2014, but is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint, a race he won last year. The Bob Baffert trainee has not raced beyond six furlongs since he placed second in the 2012 edition of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.


Trained by Alfredo Velazquez for Good Friends Stable, Private Zone most recently finished third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, 1 ¼ lengths behind Secret Circle. The son of Macho Uno also used the Sprint as a stepping stone to the Cigar Mile last year, when he finished second after setting the early pace at odds of 32-1.


The fourth-place finisher from the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Bourbon Courage, is also likely to contest the Cigar Mile. Bourbon Courage finished with a flourish in the Sprint, making up 10 lengths in the stretch to be beaten only two lengths on the line for trainer Kellyn Gorder and Bourbon Lane Stable.


Transparent, who set a track record at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park in his latest outing, is probable for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The Cigar Mile wasn't initially in the plans for the Godolphin color-bearer, but his last race was so impressive he earned a spot in the race, according to McLaughlin.


Itsmyluckyday, winner of the Grade 1 Woodward, is likely for trainer Eddie Plesa and Trilogy Stable. The son of Lawyer Ron is coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap as the odds-on favorite.


Florida-shipper Atreides, West Coast-based Regally Ready, and Kelso winner Vyjack are also probable for the race.



A pair of stakes for 2-year-olds shares the Cigar Mile undercard, with the Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen celebrating its 100th edition and the Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle for fillies being run for the 93rd time.


A field of nine appears probable for the Remsen, with trainer Todd Pletcher fielding Starlight Racing's recent maiden winner Royal Burgh along with Eric Fein's New York-bred stakes winner Ostrolenka, trying open company for the first time.


Trainers Kiaran McLaughlin and Dale Romans are each pointing two colts to the 1 1/8-mile race. Representing McLaughlin's barn will be Classy Class, a four-length maiden winner on October 25 at Belmont Park, and Godolphin Stable's Frosted, a front-running winner on October 30 at the Big A in his third start. Romans is expected to saddle Keen Ice, most recently fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland Race Course, along with the maiden Thirtysevenliveson.


Also expected are The Truth Or Else, third in the Grade 1 Champagne and the Grade 2 Nashua in his two most recent starts, and maiden winners Combat Diver and Eh Cumpari.


Condo Commando, whose 13 ¼-length victory in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga Race Course earned her a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 - tied for second-best among all 2-year-old fillies thus far this year - heads the probables for the Demoiselle, also at 1 1/8 miles.  The Rudy Rodriguez trainee was third in her most recent start, the Grade 1 Frizette, at Belmont Park.


Also likely for the Demoiselle are Grade 3 Tempted winner Jacaranda; Calamity Kate, ninth in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland; Gap Year, who broke her maiden following a seventh-place finish in the Alicibiades; Quezon, winner of the Maid of the Mist for New York-breds last time out, and Save Rock and Roll, third in the Tempted.


Undefeated Dame Dorothy is likely to headline Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000 Comely Stakes at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-old fillies.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for celebrity chef Bobby Flay, the bay filly by Bernardini is 4-for-4 this year and will be making her return to Aqueduct, where she broke her maiden in November of last year. Most recently, she won the Grade 3, $200,000 Turnback the Alarm at Belmont Park by a half-length.

Sweet Reason, a multiple Grade 1 winning filly, is probable to run for trainer Leah Gyarmati and owner Treadway Racing Stable. Sweet Reason looks to stretch out following an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. 

Catch My Drift, who finished second to Dame Dorothy in the Turnback the Alarm, is also probable. The Chad Brown-trained filly for Hidden Brook Farm is 3-for-5 in her lifetime and has picked up a pair of allowance victories at Parx and Monmouth Park.

Godolphin Stable is expected to have a trio of runners: Penwith,who finished third in the Grade 2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks at Indiana Downs and Divided Attention, coming off a troubled trip in the Grade 2, $250,000 Raven Run at Keeneland - both trained by Kiaran McLaughlin - and Snowbell, trained by Tom Albertrani.


Other likely runners include Shajolie, House Rules, and America.


Talented New York-breds Big Business, Captain Serious, and Weekend Hideaway head the list of probables for Thursday's feature, the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up.


Trained by David Jacobson for Gary Barber, Big Business enters the Fall Highweight via a second-place finish in the 6 ½-furlong Hudson Handicap for New York-breds. The 6-year-old gelding has won two of eight starts in 2014, and has hit the board in every start, with five seconds and a third-place finish to his credit.


The 3-year-old Captain Serious finished fourth in the Hudson, a half-length behind Big Business. The Mike Hushion trainee was runner-up in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Dwyer earlier in the year, but has shown an affinity for sprint distances in his young career.


Weekend Hideaway comes into the Fall Highweight off a pair of sixth-place finishes, but has been in career form for trainer Phil Serpe and Red and Black Stable. Three starts ago, the chestnut son of Speightstown won the John Morrissey at Saratoga Race Course, an effort that earned him a spot in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, in which he finished sixth.


Others likely for the Fall Highweight are Bama Bound, Joe Tess, Mewannarose and Royal Currier.


Friday's Grade 3, $300,000 Go For Wand at a mile for fillies and mares is likely to feature an intriguing field.

Princess Violet, coming off a 5 ½-length victory in the $250,000 Empire Distaff for New York-breds, will look to win her third consecutive start for trainer Michael Hushion and owner Barry K. Schwartz.

Alto Racing's Sweet Whiskey, trained by Todd Pletcher, is aiming to get back to the winners' circle following troubled trips when second in the Grade 2, $250,000 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland, sixth in the Grade 3, $300,000 Prioress Stakes at Saratoga and fifth in the Grade 1, $500,000 Test Stakes, also at the Spa.


Also expected for the Go For Wand are Dora Dora, Endless Chatter, Moment In Dixie, Ol Donyo, Playful Love, Tapit's World, Willet, and Zucchini Flower.




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