Thursday, November 20, 2014

West Hills Giant, Sunny Desert head NYSS stakes

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Contact: Sean Morris


West Hills Giant, Sunny Desert head NYSS stakes


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The New York Stallion Series will take center stage on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack with a pair of seven-furlong stakes races worth $125,000 - the Thunder Rumble and its filly counterpart, the Staten Island.


From the barn of trainer John Terranova, West Hills Giant leads the charge in the Thunder Rumble. The Frost Giant colt is winless in 2014, but has compiled a strong resume facing predominantly New York-bred competition.


After beginning his year with a sub-par effort on turf, West Hills Giant finished second to Weekend Hideaway in an allowance race on July 11 at Belmont Park. The chestnut colt again encountered Weekend Hideaway on August 15 at Saratoga Race Course in the John Morrissey Stakes, when he finished a fast-closing third in his first start equipped with blinkers. The 4-year-old colt took a brief detour to contest the seven-furlong Real Courage Stakes on the Belmont turf, but returned to dirt on October 18 at Belmont, when he ran third in the Hudson Handicap. He has received Beyer Speed Figures of 92, 91, 92 and 89 for his past four starts.


Owned by Long Island Racing Stables, Sunrise Stables, and EBX Racing Stable, West Hills Giant is listed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite. He will break from the rail with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.


Talented 3-year-old colt Loki's Vengeance will give stakes racing another try in the Thunder Rumble. The son of Frost Giant was fed a steady diet of stakes in the spring, during which he won the NYSS Times Square, but was forced to hit the sidelines after a seventh-place finish in the Mike Lee on May 31 at Belmont. The Mike Hushion trainee reappeared on October 29 at Aqueduct, and placed second via disqualification in an open-company optional claimer.


Manny Franco, who has ridden Loki's Vengeance for all eight of his career starts, will be aboard him again on Saturday. The Blue Bison Stable color-bearer sits at 8-1 on the morning line and will break from post 4.


Sir Leslie (20-1), John's Island (6-1), Sol the Freud (12-1), Readthebyline (5-1), Gridley Here (12-1), Chapman (8-1), Geaux Mets (10-1) and Belief System (30-1) round out the field in the Thunder Rumble.


Trainer Linda Rice will send out a talented trio in the Staten Island, led by Uncle Southern, 5-1 on the morning line. A 4-year-old daughter of Uncle Camie, Uncle Southern took a pair of races at Saratoga Race Course this summer, including the 6 ½-furlong Union Avenue, but most recently finished eighth in the Arctic Queen at the Finger Lakes.


Rice will also saddle Miss Narcissist (15-1), who flashed serious ability in her 2-year-old campaign but has yet to recapture her best form in her sophomore season, and Champagne Ruby (10-1), who won the Niagara Stakes two starts ago at the Finger Lakes.


Sunny Desert, the morning-line favorite at 3-1, will hope to reclaim the form she showed when winning eight of nine starts in a 13-month span dating back to March 2012. The 5-year-old mare - trained by Bruce Levine for Saul and Max Kupferberg - is without a win in 2014, but finished three-quarters of a length behind Uncle Southern in the Union Avenue.


Completing the field are Skye Saratoga (15-1), Just Catty (30-1), Vicki's Dancer (7-2), Saythreehailmary's (6-1), Royal Suspicion (12-1) and Storied Lady (5-1).



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