Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AQUEDUCT NOTES; March 18, 2009

While Aqueduct Racetrack has been used by many up-and-coming jockeys to launch their careers, this spring, veteran Javier Castellano will be using the Big A to springboard his business in New York.

Castellano, who will ride Capt. Candy Man Can here on Saturday, April 4 in the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore for three-year-olds at seven furlongs, will remain in New York through the rest of the spring, according to his agent, Mike Kelly.

The Aqueduct season ends on Sunday, April 26 while Belmont Park’s Spring/Summer Meet opens on Wednesday, April 29.

“We missed a lot of time down here this winter,” Kelly said from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. “So, rather than go to Keeneland (April 3-24), we decided to concentrate on building up our business in New York.”

Castellano, ninth in the 2008 New York Racing Association standings, has had a difficult 2009 thus far. He injured his right shoulder in a fall at Gulfstream Park on January 31. When he returned on February 28, he was involved in another spill, this time complaining of a sore back and pain in his right leg.

Last Sunday, he rebounded to win the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes with El Crespo, beating favored Lime Rickey by a length.

Capt. Candy Man Can, a gelded son of Candy Ride (ARG), is trained by Ian Wilkes. He defeated Hello Broadway in Gulfstream’s Grade 2 Hutcheson, then ran fourth in the Fountain of Youth.

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Jockey Channing Hill, a fixture on the New York circuit since his apprentice year in 2005, is heading to the left coast. Hill will move his tack early next week to Santa Anita, where California agent Tom Knust will pick up his book.

“The opportunity presented itself and I thought it was a good one,” Hill said. “The summer will be tough here in New York and it seemed like a good time to try Santa Anita.”

Hill’s last day riding in New York is tomorrow and he plans to spend a few days in his native Nebraska en route to California.

“I’m going to get situated and make a big run at Santa Anita,” Hill said. “If I’m going to make a change, I want it to be a positive one and I’m ready to see if I can make it out there.”

In 2008, Hill was seventh overall in the New York jockey standings with 133 wins from 1,140 starts and more than $5 million in earnings.

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Musket Man, winner of last Saturday’s Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby by a neck over Join In the Dance, is under consideration for the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial for three-year-olds at nine furlongs on April 4.

The son of Yonaguska is trained by Derek Ryan and was ridden by Tampa Bay’s leading jockey, Daniel Centeno, who recorded his first graded-stakes win.

“He’s nominated for the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne (April 4, Grade 2, $500,000, nine furlongs), but the owners are all from New York, so we might have to look at the Wood Memorial, too,” Ryan said. “We just have to see how he comes out of it and go from there. Daniel (Centeno) had been working him in the mornings, and he never worked as well for anyone else. The last two times, when Daniel pulled up he told me, ‘This horse works like a freak for me.’ Usually when he works, when he hits the eighth pole he waits; I told Daniel that he had to get into him to teach him that he has to go on. I’ll definitely keep Danny on him now.”

Musket Man is owned by Eric Fine, who also won the 2008 Tampa Bay Derby with Big Truck, and Vic Carlson.

Fein, owner of 2003 Kentucky Derby Preakness winner Funny Cide. He is the owner of a title insurance business, EAM Land Services, in Syosset, N.Y.

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