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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


NYRA NOTES: Wednesday, March 21, 2012


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – WinStar Farm’s undefeated Gemologist is headed to Aqueduct Racetrack for next month’s Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial, trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed by phone Wednesday morning.

Timing was a factor in the decision to run in the April 7 Wood after the son of Tiznow cruised to a seven-length allowance win in his 2012 debut at Gulfstream Park last Friday.


“I thought it was a terrific comeback race, just what we hoped for, and he came out of it in excellent shape,” Pletcher said of the one-mile event. “We felt that 22 days between the allowance and the Wood and then four weeks to the Kentucky Derby was preferable to waiting until April 14 and running in the Arkansas Derby or the Blue Grass.”

Gemologist debuted a winner at Turfway Park last September and closed out his juvenile campaign with a pair of victories at Churchill Downs: an allowance optional claimer in October followed by the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 26.

Pletcher said he expects to work Gemologist once before the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial – Sunday, April 1 at Palm Meadows – before sending him to New York on an April 4 flight.

As of Wednesday, NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes listed the following horses as probable for the Wood: Grade 3 Gotham winner and juvenile champion Hansen; recent stakes winners The Lumber Guy and Street Life; and Tiger Walk, most recently fourth in the Gotham. Byrnes added that 2011’s Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful winner Currency Swap –second to Gemologist in last week’s Gulfstream allowance – was also under consideration for the race, along with Gotham runner-up My Adonis and Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby winner Prospective.

* * *

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito has confirmed that Grade 1 winner Jackson Bend will join the all-star cast of horses headed to Aqueduct Racetrack for the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap on Wood Memorial Day, Saturday, April 7.

A modestly bred 5-year-old son of Hear No Evil, Jackson Bend boasts a resume that includes more than $1.3 million in earnings and a Grade 1 win at the seven-furlong Carter distance, earned last summer in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Forego, which he won by 3 ¼ lengths.

After opening his 2012 campaign with a victory in the Grade 3, one-mile Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream on January 14, Jackson Bend most recently ran third in the Grade 2, one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 10.

“He stumbled leaving the gate and was outside the entire race,” Zito said. “We really can’t take much from that race, but he came out of it really well. He’s a terrific at seven furlongs and the Carter makes perfect sense.”

The race will mark Jackson Bend’s second career start at Aqueduct, having run second by 9 ¾ lengths to Eskendereya in the 2010 Wood Memorial.

The Carter is shaping up as one of the best races for older horses run this year, with entrants expected to include 2011 Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford, 2011 Foxwoods King’s Bishop (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Caleb’s Posse, Grade 1 winner Capt. Candyman Can, and five-time graded stakes winner Calibrachoa.

* * *

New York’s leading rider Ramon Dominguez might only miss two weeks of action after positive results from an MRI on Tuesday, according to his agent Steve Rushing.

“Ramon had an MRI on Tuesday, spoke to his doctor today, and they are confident that he can be back within two weeks,” Rushing said.

That timeframe would get Dominguez back to the races in time to ride Hansen in the April 7 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

On Friday evening, Dominguez will attend his first NHL game as he heads to Madison Square Garden to watch the conference-leading New York Rangers host the Buffalo Sabres. Dominguez will sit down for a television interview with analyst Al Trautwig to discuss Wood Memorial Day at Aqueduct, which will air during the second intermission on MSG2.


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