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Sunday, November 24, 2013


Fall Highweight highlights Thanksgiving Day card at the Big A


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Horses as well as humans will be toting around a few extra pounds on Thanksgiving Day as a field of eight gathers for the 100th edition of the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, the traditional holiday feature at Aqueduct Racetrack.


First race post time on Thursday will be 11:25 a.m., with the nine-race card set to conclude at approximately 3:10 p.m.

Set to defend his Fall Highweight title is Mike Repole's Caixa Eletronica, who will carry 132 pounds, including jockey Javier Castellano, in the six-furlong race. Last year, the son of Arromanches lugged 133 pounds en route to a four-length win, which earned him a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

Now 8, Caixa Eletronica has shown few signs of slowing down, having won four of his eight 2013 starts, including a come-from-behind triumph in the Duck Dance overnight stakes last time out at Belmont Park. He began the year with a 2 ¾-length win in the Uncle Mo overnight stakes at the Big A and won a pair of optional claimer/starter allowance races over the summer.

Since being claimed by Repole for $62,500 in March, 2011, he has compiled a record of 11-5-4 from 28 starts for earnings of more than $1.5 million. Overall, he is 23-9-11 from 68 career races.

"The cool thing about him is he's kind of a no-pressure horse; we feel as if everything he does is a bonus," said Caixa Eletronica's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "He's still doing well after winning 23 races and he seems to love what he's doing.

"In a lot of these cases, when you're running horses in significant races there's a lot on the line in terms of their stud value, or their residual value and all those things," he added. "In his case, we can enjoy it and that makes it kind of fun and pressure-free."

As the 7-2 third choice on the morning line, Caixa Eletronica will leave from post position 2.

Vying for favoritism are likely to be Grade 1 Forego winner Strapping Groom, most recently fourth as the 6-5 choice in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap on October 26 at Belmont, and multiple graded stakes winner Sage Valley, making his first start since a last-place finish as the favorite in the Frank DeFrancis Memorial Dash on September 21 at Laurel Park.

The 5-2 morning-line favorite and starting high weight under 135 pounds, Strapping Groom and jockey Junior Alvarado will leave from post position 6 while Sage Valley, assigned 129 pounds, will depart from post position 8 with Junior Alvarado in the irons. He is listed at 3-1 on the morning line.

Trainer Mike Hushion will be represented by a pair of stakes winners in the speedy B Shanny, exiting a third-place finish in the Hudson Handicap on October 19 at Belmont, and The Lumber Guy, coming off a pair of disappointing outings when seventh in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and 11th after a slow start in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"The Lumber Guy had a bit of an excuse in California, but I really thought he would run a big race in the Vosburgh," said Hushion of the 4-year-old gray Grand Slam colt, who last year won the Vosburgh and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. "It's a little bit quick back, but we'll see where we are at with him.

"B Shanny is training well and it looks like a good spot for him," he added of the 4-year-old son of Street Cry, 3-1-2 from seven starts this year. "We know he'll ensure an honest pace."

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride B Shanny from post position 5, with Mike Luzzi to pilot The Lumber Guy from post position 7. The Barry K. Schwartz entry is 4-1 on the morning line.

Rounding out the field are Saturday's Charm, third in the Bold Ruler last time out; Jake N Elwood, coming off a sixth-place finish in an optional claimer at Laurel, and Palace, who in his two most recent starts defeated New York-breds in both the Hudson Handicap and Chowder's First overnight stakes.



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