Friday, November 21, 2008

AQUEDUCT HOLIDAYFEST NOTES: Friday, November 21, 2008

Next Saturday’s 20th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile is the feature race of HolidayFest at Aqueduct Racetrack. It’s the biggest week of the Big A’s Fall Meet and will get the holiday season off to a running start.

Expected for the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile are Arson Squad, Bribon (FR), Harlem Rocker, Kodiak Kowboy, Storm Play, Tale of Ekati, Visionaire and Wanderin Boy. Past the Point is questionable at this point.

Stone Farm’s 7-year-old Wanderin Boy caught defending Horse of the Year Curlin in his two most recent starts. Trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, he makes his Aqueduct debut on Saturday.

Arson Squad, owned by Jay Em Ess Stable, comes into the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile after an impressive win in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup Handicap last month for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

Charles E. Fipke’s Tale of Ekati, winner of Belmont Park’s Grade 2 Jerome Handicap, returns to Aqueduct, where he won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial in April. Stronach Stable’s Harlem Rocker, winner of the Grade 3 Withers back in the spring, also makes his Big A comeback in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile.

The Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s Kodiak Kowboy won Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap and will be making his Big A debut.

Team Valor International’s Visionaire got up late to win the Grade 3 Gotham in the slop back in the spring, and has since become a Grade 1 winner with victory in Saratoga’s NetJets King’s Bishop.

Edward P. Evans’ Storm Play is undefeated in three starts with a victory at all three of the New York Racing Association’s tracks: Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Marc Keller’s Bribon (FR) is undefeated in two Aqueduct starts, including a victory at a mile.

Past the Point was second to Curlin in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Woodward.

Sharing the card with the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile is the 95th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen for two-year-olds at nine furlongs and its filly counterpart, the 87th running of the Demoiselle.

Likely players in the Remsen are American Dance, Awesome Mich, Hello Broadway, Hold Me Back, Idol Maker, Old Fashioned, Rip Rap and Viscount.

Probables for the Demoiselle are Ain’t Love Grand, Bluegrass Princess, Renda, Sky Diva, Stormy’s Smile and Subprime.

Next Saturday, November 29, first race post will be at 12:25 p.m. There will be self-service wagering only on Churchill Downs race 1 at 11:30 a.m.

HolidayFest begins on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, and with first race post at 11:25 a.m., there is plenty of time to get a day of racing in before the traditional feast. Aqueduct’s last live race on Thursday will go to post at 3:10 p.m., with the second-floor clubhouse remaining open for simulcasting until approximately 5:30 p.m. Telebet/internet wagering closes at approximately 6 p.m.

Parking gates will open at 9:15 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and admission gates will open at 9:30 a.m.

The featured race on Thanksgiving Day is the 95th running of the $100,000-added Fall Highweight Handicap at six furlongs.

The probable field for the Fall Highweight is Ferocious Fires, Grand Champion, He’s So Chic, Idiot Proof, Nakayama Arashi, Silver Stetson Man, Songster and Wild Geese.

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Friday’s card will begin at 12:25 p.m. and will feature the 69th running of the Grade 2, $150,000-added Top Flight Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile.

Altesse, Leah’s Secret, Rite Moment, Shining Image and Spectacular Malibu are likely starters.

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HolidayFest wraps up on Sunday, November 30, with the 29th running of the $75,000-added Montauk Handicap for fillies and mares at nine furlongs.

Probable starters are Borrowing Base, Here Comes Rita, Raffie’s Treasure and Twistaway, with Yet Again listed as questionable.

First race post on Sunday is 12:30 p.m.

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On Monday, November 24, turkeys and non-perishable food items will be distributed to more than 150 backstretch families from Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack at Belmont Park’s Gate 6 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

These items, as well as gift certificates, were donated by the public and additional items will be accepted at Gate 6 through the weekend from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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