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Saturday, March 07, 2009


AH DAY GETS A HEAD UP IN THE TOBOGGAN


Ah Day, making his second career start at Aqueduct, avenged his third-place finish in the 2007 Grade 1 Carter Handicap by rallying off a hot pace to defeat fellow Maryland invader Eternal Star by a head in Saturday’s 116th running of the Grade 3, $110,700 Toboggan Stakes at six furlongs on Aqueduct’ Racetrack’s fast inner dirt track.

“He ran awesome,” said Avon Thorpe, assistant to winning trainer King T. Leatherbury. “He’s been training good. He came back slowly and took his time. Then, he just did what he normally does – ran big.


Leatherbury, who claims to have put Hall of Fame jockeys Chris McCarron and Kent Desormeaux on their first stakes winners, has now given Sheldon Russell his first stakes victory.

“Coming off the layoff, he was a tad slow coming out of the gate, and King’s orders were not to rush him,” Russell said, as Ah Day sat off the pace of 22.11, 44.77 and 57.28 set by West Coast Flier, who was pressed by Grand Champion and favored Driven by . “There was a lot of speed in the race. He took himself back from being slow out of the gate, and I pretty much just sat on him, sat on him and saved as much ground as I could. I just angled him out and he came running. The horse was very ready and worked very well at Laurel. I am very grateful to King giving me the chance.”

Ah Day, a 6-year-old Malibu Moon gelding, won in 1:10.21 and returned $16.80 for the 11th win of his 24-race career.

Saint Daimon, at 44-1, was third, followed by Lucky Island (ARG) and Driven by Success.

“My horse has a lot of speed and we definitely wanted to make the lead,” said Driven by Success’ jockey, Rajiv Maragh. “Unfortunately, we had company through a demanding half of 44 and change. If you look, none of the horses in the top three that were chasing the pace finished anywhere. My horse showed a lot of guts to finish where he did.”

Joey P. was sixth, with West Coast Flier, Grand Champion and Place Your Bet completing the order of finish.

TOBOGGAN QUOTES

Avon Thorpe, assistant to King T. Leatherbury, winning owner/trainer of Ah Day (No. 9): “He ran awesome. He’s been training good. He came back slowly and took his time. Then, he just did what he normally does – ran big. I have no idea what’s next.”

Winning jockey Sheldon Russell: “Coming off the layoff, he was a tad slow coming out of the gate, and King’s orders were not to rush him. There was a lot of speed in the race. He took himself back from being slow out of the gate, and I pretty much just sat on him, sat on him and saved as much ground as I could. I just angled him out and he came running. The horse was very ready and worked very well at Laurel. I am very grateful to King giving me the chance.”

Bruce Levine, trainer of beaten favorite and fifth-place Driven by Success (No. 1): “He got off a little slow and kind of rushed up. That might have hurt him. We’ll see what happens.

Rajiv Maragh, jockey of Driven by Success: My horse has a lot of speed and we definitely wanted to make the lead. Unfortunately, we had company through a demanding half. If you look, none of the horses in the top three that were chasing the pace finished anywhere. My horse showed a lot of guts to finish where he did.”


NOTE: Legendary Maryland-based trainer King Leatherbury, who ranks third all-time with most wins, claims to have put Hall of Fame jockeys Chris McCarron and Kent Desormeaux on their first stakes winners. Ah Day is Sheldon Russell’s first stakes winnner.


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