Now, after a short winter break in Florida and starting for new trainer Todd Pletcher, Manteca will try for his second stakes win in Sunday’s $65,000-added Kings Point Handicap for New York-breds three-years-old and up going a mile and eighth. The Kings Point, Sunday’s featured seventh race, will be the last stakes contested at Aqueduct this season. Live racing shifts to Belmont Park for the 64-day Spring/Summer meet beginning Wednesday, April 29.
Manteca’s only finish off the board in six lifetime starts to date came in the Stymie Handicap at a mile and an eighth on February 28, when he tired after leading for a half mile and finished fourth.
Shortly after the Stymie, the colt was moved to Pletcher’s barn, and spent the latter half of the winter at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida.
“I feel like he’s done well,” Pletcher said. “He’s been training forwardly and we’ve been pointing to this race for a month or so now.”
Manteca breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 on April 19 at Palm Meadows, and shipped to New York on Wednesday. While Pletcher’s New York assistant, Jonathan Thomas, said he hadn’t had much of a chance to get to know the colt, he said Manteca had shipped well and looks to be in excellent condition. Pletcher said he planned to keep the colt based in New York this spring.
Also returning to New York after a winter in warmer climes is IEAH Stables’ Wishful Tomcat. The four-year-old son of Tactical Cat has made three starts in 2009, two over the Pro-Ride at San Anita in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes and the Grade 2 Strub Stakes, finishing third and eighth respectively. Most recently, Wishful Tomcat ran ninth in a field of 11 in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds.
A return to New York may suit the colt well – he was three for three in downstate starts this fall, winning the Floral Park Handicap and the John’s Gold Stakes during the fall meet at Belmont, then leading gate-to-wire in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct on November 22nd for former trainer Gary Contessa.
“He’s doing very good,” said trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who has saddled the colt for all three of his four-year-old starts. “I can’t wait to watch him run – he likes the track [and] he likes New York-breds!”
Rounding out the field of six are four horses who have spent the winter racing at Aqueduct.
Trainer Rodrigo Ubillo hopes a rider change will bring success for August Forever Stable’s Dr. D.F.C. Following a fifth place finish in the Smart Coupon stakes on April 2, the 6-year-old son of Personal Flag will get the services of Eddie Castro in the Kings Point.
“Eddie’s ridden him once before and I think he fits him well,” Ubillo said. “Because of the rider change and the way he’s been training, he should run much better this time. He was tired of the inner track and really likes the main track – I’m excited to see what he’ll do on Sunday.”
Breaking from post positions four, five, and six, respectively, are Tina Bond’s Tommasi, Steven X. Kouray’s Alexandros, and Merrylegs Farm’s See More Spirit.
Tommasi, who had one win and two thirds in six starts in 2008, has been off since an eighth-place finish in the $250,000 Empire Classic Handicap at Belmont in October. See More Spirit and Alexandros finished one-two in the Smart Coupon Stakes last month.
The field for the 29th running of the Kings Point Handicap:
PP Horse Wgt. Jockey Trainer
1 Manteca 121 John Velasquez Todd Pletcher
2 Dr. D.F.C 119 Eddie Castro Rodrigo Ubillo
3 Wishful Tomcat 121 Ramon Dominguez Rick Dutrow Jr.
4 Tommasi 119 Rajiv Maragh H. James Bond
5 Alexandros 119 Javier Castellano Del Carroll II
6 See More Spirit 121 Sebastian Morales John Hertler