• NYRA Rewards members can bet on UK, Irish racing beginning tomorrow
• Caixa Eletronica heads Pletcher trio for closing weekend stakes
• Spring to the Sky returns to dirt for G3 Bold Ruler
• Fields coming together for final weekend stakes
• Nihei mulling options for sharp 2-year-old turf winner Draw Two
• Live New York Showcase Day broadcast on Sirius Radio from 4-6 p.m.
After careful consideration, Jacobson has decided to have Saginaw cut back in distance for the six-furlong Hudson, giving Fiddlers Afleet the chance to prove what he can do in the Empire Classic away from the shadow of his stablemate.
Fiddlers Afleet, a 6-year-old who has raced for myriad trainers in his career, has won two of three starts at the Empire Classic’s distance, with victories in the 2009 Albany at Saratoga and the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park.
Jacobson compares the 6-year-old son of Northern Afleet to a “utility player.”
“Fiddler has already proved that he can go a mile and an eighth,” said Jacobson. “Saginaw already beat Fiddler, and Fiddler ran real good with Lunar Victory, whom we anticipate will be the favorite [in the Empire Classic].”
In his first start for Jacobson, Fiddlers Afleet won the six-furlong Chasin’ Wimmin’ by 7 ¼ lengths in July at Belmont Park, then was a well-beaten seventh in the John Morrissey, won by Saginaw, in August at Saratoga. Later that month, the Gary Barber color-bearer rebounded to take the Clever Electrician at the Spa prior to the Promenade All.
The Empire Classic will be Fiddlers Afleet’s first start beyond one mile this year. He’ll be coupled in the Empire Classic with Big Business, a seven-length victor of an off-the-turf entry-level allowance for New York-breds on September 29.
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Beginning Saturday, October 20, NYRA Rewards customers will be able to wager on races from the United Kingdom and Ireland online at NYRARewards.com and through Telebet.
Saturday is British Champions Day at Ascot Race Course, where undefeated Frankel will attempt to extend his winning streak to 14 in the Group 1 Champion Stakes. The race, which likely will be Frankel’s final career start, is carded as the fifth event at Ascot with a scheduled post time of 11:05 a.m. EDT.
Wagering will open for NYRA Rewards customers at 9 a.m. and UK racing will be on the wagering menu on all of NYRA’s live racing days. Races will be streamed live at NYRARewards.com.
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Caixa Eletronica, who at age 7 earned a career-high 107 Beyer Speed Figure when finishing second in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational last time out, comes back next Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bold Ruler Handicap, a race in which he finished third last year.
“Seven furlongs is not a problem for him,” said Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, of the Repole Stable color-bearer, who has earned more than $1 million this year. “He ran a very credible race last time out in the Vosburgh. It set up well for him. He’s one of those horses who is so versatile, no matter what distance, he seems to show up every time.”
The Pletcher barn will have two representatives in the other Grade 3 event on Saturday, the $150,000 Turnback the Alarm at 1 1/16 miles. Maristar, most recently fourth in the Grade 1 Beldame, will get some class relief while R Gypsy Gold returns after a brief freshening following her sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap.
“Maristar didn’t run a bad race last time out; she was just a little overmatched,” said Beckman of the 5-year-old Giant’s Causeway mare. “Hopefully, this will be a better spot for her. She’s doing well, so we’ll see what happens.”
R Gypsy Gold, who won the Endear overnight stakes at the Turnback the Alarm distance on July 4, was third in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher prior to finishing 18 ½ lengths behind winner Love and Pride in the Personal Ensign.
“Like Maristar, that was probably a little bit out of her league,” said Beckman of R Gypsy Gold, who is owned by E Paul Robsham Racing Stables. “She’s doing really, really well right now, and 1 1/16 miles should suit her just fine.”
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Spring to the Sky, winner of the six-furlong Groovy overnight turf stakes on September 13, will return to the main track next Saturday in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler.
The 3-year-old Langfuhr colt began his career on dirt, breaking his maiden over a muddy Belmont track 13 months ago, then finished fourth and second in a pair of sprints. Switched to the grass in June, he was fifth in the Grade 3 Hill Prince, third in the Duluth overnight stakes at Saratoga and ninth in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Saranac prior to the Groovy.
“Looking back, 1 1/8 miles was way too far for him,” said Bruce Brown, who trains Spring to the Sky for Anthony McCarthy. “He has been running really well on grass, but we thought we would give him one more shot on dirt as we plan for the future.
“If he runs big on the dirt, there are much more opportunities on dirt,” added Brown. “Or, he can go to grass full-time.”
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The Grade 3, $150,000 Bold Ruler for sprinters and the Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm for fillies and mares on Saturday highlight the closing weekend for Belmont Park’s fall meet.
Likely for the seven-furlong Bold Ruler, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Brynes, are Associate, who has been first, second or third in seven of eight starts since breaking his maiden last July; Godolphin Racing’s Buffum, unraced since finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap in July; Caixa Eletronica, a closing second in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational last time out; Fort Loudon, who followed a second in the Grade 1 Foxwoods King’s Bishop with a seventh in the Vosburgh in his first start against older horses; Golddigger’s Boy, most recently fifth in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap; Little Drama, fourth in the Vosburgh; Spring to the Sky, returning to dirt following a victory in the Groovy overnight stakes, and Zero Rate Policy, eighth in the Vosburgh.
The 1 1/16-mile Turnback the Alarm is expected to attract All Due Respect, second to champion Awesome Feather in the Nasty Storm overnight stakes on September 20; Arena Elvira, returning to action from a six-month layoff after finishing third in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne; Catch a Thief, runner-up in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses in July; Go Unbridled, most recently third in the Grade 1 Beldame behind Royal Delta and It’s Tricky; Maristar, fourth in the Beldame; Nefertini, unraced since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher on July 29 at Monmouth Park; R Gypsy Gold, who followed a third in the Molly Pitcher with a sixth in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, and Thundering Emilia, seventh in the Grade 3 Athenia and Grade 2 Ballston Spa in her last two starts.
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Draw Two showed on Wednesday that he might be taking down big pots in the future with his 7 ¾-length maiden victory on the turf at Belmont.
Making the third start of his career, the 2-year-old Macho Uno colt bided his time in fifth in the early stages under Javier Castellano, hooked four wide to commence his stretch run, and blew past his competition en route to the facile score in the 1 1/16-mile race.
It was kind of effort trainer Michelle Nihei had been looking for from Draw Two, who was third in a seven-furlong race in July at Belmont and second to eventual Grade 3 Pilgrim winner Noble Tune going 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga in August.
“He broke outside and ran on [in his debut race], but he was a little green,” said Nihei, who trains Draw Two for Dennis Narlinger. “With the weather and other factors, we couldn’t get into a race until the last day at Saratoga. We got into a funny position. We broke better, but got squeezed back and waited longer than we needed to. [Noble Tune] came along the inside and got a nice trip. [Noble Tune is] a nice horse, no doubt. He showed he’s a top horse when he won the Pilgrim, and I think Draw Two fits well in that company. He was professional [on Wednesday]. He was the same horse he was in Saratoga, but just needed things to go his way.”
With turf racing winding down in New York for the year, Nihei said she doesn’t know whether Draw Two will make another start as a juvenile or wait for a sophomore campaign.
“We’ll take a look around,” said Nihei. “With the weather forcing us to be easy on him, we have the latitude to wait until his 3-year-old season or try to find a race for him.”
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New York Showcase Day from Belmont Park will be broadcast Saturday on Sirius radio as part of the satellite radio network’s “Race of the Week” series. The show can be heard on Sirius Ch. 92 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Dave Johnson, the long-time voice of the Kentucky Derby on ABC Sports, will host, with racing journalist Bill Finley providing the commentary. The broadcast will feature live coverage of the races that go off between 4 and 6 p.m., plus delayed calls of the stakes run earlier in the day.
New York Showcase Day features seven stakes races for New York-breds, topped by the $250,000 Empire Classic. The Sirius broadcast has been sponsored by the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.