Thursday, March 01, 2012

NYRA NOTES (CORRECTED): Thursday, March 1, 2012

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Hansen, 2011’s 2-Year-Old Champion Male, galloped 1 1/8 miles over Belmont Park’s training track and schooled at the gate this morning as his preparations continue for Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The light gray Tapit colt is the 6-5 favorite in a field of 13 for the 1 1/16-mile Gotham, the local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial on April 7.

Hansen, who suffered his first defeat when second to Algorithms in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on January 29, arrived from Florida late Wednesday afternoon on the same flight as fellow Gotham starters Maan, Stealcase, Dan and Sheila, Finnegans Wake, and Suns Out Guns Out.

Maan, who broke his maiden at first asking in July at Churchill Downs, and returned seven months later to win an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park, jogged around the training track this morning, according to Tom Morley, assistant to trainer Eddie Kenneally.

“I haven’t seen him since this summer, and he’s definitely matured,” added Morley of the Malibu Moon colt. “He’s longer and he’s filled out.”

Morley said Maan will either jog or gallop tomorrow morning.

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When Cot Campbell paid $240,000 for Raconteur last spring, he knew that with his breeding, the chestnut son of A.P. Indy out of the Storm Cat mare Miss Kate wasn’t going to be a precocious colt. Saturday, he’s hoping that Raconteur will show that he is worthy of his purchase price when he makes his stakes debut in the Gotham.

“We’re hoping he will run well, and we think he will,” said Campbell of the Dogwood Stable color-bearer, whose breeder, G. Watts Humphrey, retains a 25 percent interest. “The family has always been a late-developing family. Plus, we know he likes the track here, and he doesn’t have to travel.”

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Raconteur made his first appearance at Saratoga Race Course last summer, finishing fifth in a 5 ½-furlong race won by Vexor, who went on to annex the Grade 2 Nashua. He then posted a pair of seconds and a pair of thirds, finally breaking through in his 2012 debut going 1 1/8 miles on the inner track. He made it 2-for-2 as a sophomore on February 3, coming from just off the pace to win an optional claimer by three-quarters of a length going one mile, 70 yards.

“He’s won his last two, but not in a sensational style that gets everyone excited,” said Campbell. “He does have a flashy pedigree, but he’s one of those earnest, grind-it-out, hard-trying, uncomplicated horses.

“But for $400,000,” he added, “we hope he will grind away effectively.”

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Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had been hoping the Gotham would give Godolphin Racing’s Consortium a chance to rebound from his last-place finish behind Algorithms in the Grade 3 Holy Bull. But the Bernardini colt came back from a Monday workout with a chip in his right ankle that will require surgery, sidelining him until the summer.

In his stead, McLaughlin will be saddling Darley Stable’s Side Road, a four-length maiden winner going a mile at the Big A on January 28 in his fourth career start. After finishing fifth in his debut at Belmont, the Street Cry colt was third and fourth in two subsequent starts at Aqueduct.

“He’s a big, improving horse and we hope he steps up to the plate,” said McLaughlin’s assistant, Art Magnuson. “He’s an improving animal who’s been training well.”

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