Monday, April 16, 2012
NYRA NOTES: Sunday, April 15, 2012
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Saturday was a busy day for Art Magnuson, New York-based assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. After sending out It’s Tricky to victory in Aqueduct’s Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap, he was off to West Virginia to saddle Redding Colliery in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, which went off at 10:34 yesterday evening. Magnuson was in good spirits Sunday morning despite the long day, and reported both his charges to be doing well.
“It’s Tricky’s doing great; she came out of the race very well, ate well, she’s happy,” said Magnuson. “Simon Crisford and Jimmy Bell [of Godolphin] will make the final decision on what’s next, but logically it looks like the Phipps [Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap, 1 1/16 miles on May 28 at Belmont Park]. She really came out of it well. She wintered very well in Florida and it’s nice to be able to stay home [and run]. She’s already won two Grade 1s, so we didn’t have to go chasing it. Let them come to us.”
“It was a gamble,” Magnuson said of the decision to run in West Virginia. “We were in an overnight stake here on turf yesterday, or we could have entered today’s overnight stakes on dirt, but we thought ‘He was third there before [2010 Charles Town Classic], let’s take a shot.’ He’s just beginning to look like he might need a little easier spot. He’s very sound, he’s doing great, but he’s six years old. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, they go on and do well, but he might be just a half a step slower than he was.”
Magnuson, however, was not feeling slow on Sunday morning.
“I’ve had caffeine, and It’s Tricky winning definitely helps,” said Magnuson. “Tomorrow I’ll be tired. The trip wasn’t bad, though. At 6:30 we took off [from Republic Airport in Farmingdale], we were at Charles Town by 7:45, and we were on the ground here again at 12:30. It sounds like West Virginia is so far away, but we got to airport and we’re in the air like that. It’s the way to go, it spoils you. We were back on the ground in Farmingdale and I’m thinking ‘Man, the horse is probably just going to the stall now.’ It was unreal.”
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The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) experienced tremendous export handle growth, especially through its online and telephone NYRA Rewards platforms, on Gulfstream Park’s races during the Florida track’s recently concluded meet after the two tracks agreed to stagger their post times approximately 15 minutes apart.
By coordinating post times, NYRA was able to show live racing from both Aqueduct Racetrack and Gulfstream on The NYRA Network, channel 71 on Time Warner’s basic cable system in New York City. NYRA Rewards customers responded by betting an additional 63 percent online and 68.7 percent over the telephone on Gulfstream’s races on an average daily basis.
Overall, NYRA’s average daily Gulfstream handle, which includes bets placed at Aqueduct, the Belmont Café, and through NYRA Rewards, was $458,855, up 21.1 percent.
In 2012, Gulfstream patrons wagered $8,061,029 on Aqueduct’s races, a 13 percent increase over comparable dates in 2011
“We would like to thank Track President and General Manager Tim Ritvo and everyone else at Gulfstream Park for their cooperation,” said NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward. “Fans could easily follow racing from two of the premier wintertime venues, and we appreciate their enthusiastic response. We look forward to continuing to work together with Gulfstream’s management team.”
With the conclusion of Gulfstream’s meet on April 8, NYRA is now coordinating post times with Keeneland, with the NYRA Network showing live races from both tracks.
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The Lumber Guy, who suffered his first defeat when fifth in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial on April 7, will look to regain the winning thread in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Jerome will require a two-week turnaround for The Lumber Guy, who will be cutting back from 1 1/8 miles to one mile. In the Wood Memorial, the 3-year-old Grand Slam colt was forced out at the start, recovered to seize a clear lead, and led to the quarter pole before giving way, reporting home 6 ¼ lengths behind winner Gemologist.
“It’s back quicker than I’d like, but I’m anxious to run him in a one-turn mile,” said Michael Hushion, who trains The Lumber Guy for Barry Schwartz. “I think that’s the key, a one-turn mile. A rider can just come out there real quietly, wherever he wants to take him, and make them sort it out for a half mile down the backside.”
Even though Hushion is eager to have The Lumber Guy, who won Laurel Park’s seven-furlong Miracle Wood in February, cut back in distance, the trainer has not eliminated the possibility of stretching him out again later in his career.
“I’m still figuring out what his best distance is,” said Hushion. “Physically, he’d definitely go long, but mentally he’s not ready to go long. Hopefully he’ll start to get the idea and not get panicky once he gets set off a little bit.”
In addition The Lumber Guy, the Jerome is expected to attract Adirondack King, Dan and Sheila, Guyana Star Dweej, and Right to Vote, according to Andrew Byrnes, NYRA’s stakes coordinator. Sensor is possible.
Hushion reported Gem, Inc.’s Nicole H, fourth in yesterday’s Distaff Handicap, came out of the race in good shape.
“I thought her race was a little bit better after I watched it today,” said Hushion. “At least she was in front at the eighth pole through three quarters in 1:09. It speaks something, anyway. It wasn’t a terrible effort under the circumstances.”
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Claimed for $62,500 last March by owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher, Caixa Eletronica almost immediately doubled his purchase price when he turned around and won the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap at Belmont Park and finished third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile.
In nine subsequent starts, the son of Arromanches failed to bring home a check only once for his new connections, but the biggest return on Repole’s investment came Saturday night in West Virginia, when the 7-year-old horse pulled off an 8-1 upset of the Grade 2, $1 million Charles Town Classic.
“I went out to dinner last night with my wife, and we got home and turned the race on with about 12 minutes to post,” said Repole late Sunday morning, several hours after Caixa Eletronica returned to Pletcher’s barn at Belmont. “I really didn’t expect much. Todd had asked me about 10 days ago if I wanted to run Caixa in this race. I said him I’d rather run for $50,000 at Belmont, but as I always do, told him to do what he wanted to do.
“As I’m watching the race, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he added. “I was so happy that I couldn’t stop laughing for two hours. I have to give Todd a lot of credit. Here I’m looking to win an overnight stakes at Belmont and Todd’s thinking a $1 million race. That’s what makes Todd so special.”
The victory, worth $576,000, instantly turned Caixa Eletronica into a millionaire, with earnings of $1,118,205 and a lifetime record of 17-7-11 from 52 starts. He is the only stakes winner by Arromanches, who won 10 straight races at ages 8 and 9, the last five at Belmont Park and Aqueduct. Like his father, who was known as “the horse who refuses to lose,” Caixa Eletronica seems to be getting better as he gets older.
“You really root for horses like that, horses that are kind of overachievers,” said Repole. “And Caixa is a true racehorse. How can you not love him? He goes out there and gives it his all every time. He won two races at Saratoga this year, winning at 1 1/8 miles under 131 pounds. He’s won on fast tracks and won on muddy tracks. He’s just a really fun horse, and I am so fortunate. Once in a while you get a surprise with a horse, but usually not in a $1 million race.”
His next start, said Repole, remains undetermined.
“It will either be in the [$750,000] Met Mile [May 28], a $60,000 starter allowance, a $50,000 claimer, or a $75,000 overnight stakes,” he joked.
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Flying Zee Stables’ Agave Kiss will make two treks outside New York in the upcoming weeks as her connections keep an eye on Grade 1 races at Saratoga Race Course.
The unbeaten 3-year-old sprinter, who bypassed the Grade 3 Comely after winning March’s Grade 3 Cicada at Aqueduct, is entered in Tuesday’s $75,000 Trevose, a six-furlong dash at Parx Racing. Should she exit the Trevose in good order, she’ll likely head to Pimlico for the May 18 Miss Preakness at six furlongs, trainer Rudy Rodriguez said.
“[The Trevose] is a good spot,” said Rodriguez. “The timing is right. We’re going to run her at Parx, and then look at the Ms. Preakness. We’re just trying to keep her happy and sound.”
This summer, Agave Kiss will have two opportunities in New York to become a Grade 1 winner as Saratoga Race Course will present the six-furlong Prioress on August 4 and the seven-furlong Test on August 25.
“I think she can do it,” said Rodriguez. “She’s a talented filly, and what I have to do is try to bring her into each race the best she can be. There aren’t many spots for her right now, but the [races like the Prioress and Test] are our main goals. They’re just a long time from now.”
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