“We’ll look at the Gotham/Wood, talk to [Godolphin racing manager] Simon Crisford and see if we want to run him two more times, or one more time,” said McLaughlin, referring to Aqueduct Racetrack’s Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham on March 3 and the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World New York City Casino Wood Memorial on April 7. “We like having him here in New York.”
The decision to run Alpha in the January 7 Count Fleet and the Withers was made initially to keep him and another Godolphin son of Bernardini on divergent paths to the Triple Crown, said the trainer.
“We thought Consortium was equally good, and we wanted to split them up,” said McLaughlin. “Then he ran terrible in the slop, [last of six] in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream. We still think he’s a good colt, but we’re not sure which way we are going to go with him.”
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Calibrachoa – winner of four Grade 3 stakes at Aqueduct, including Saturday’s Toboggan – will aim for a fifth as the 5-year-old has been pointed toward the $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap on March 3, the Todd Pletcher stable has said.
Owned by Mike Repole, Calibrachoa won the Toboggan for the second straight year, improving his inner-track record to 4-for-4. The son of Southern Image prefers having ample time between starts, but the Pletcher stable believes the four weeks between the Toboggan and the Tom Fool will provide sufficient rest. Like with the Toboggan, Calibrachoa won the Tom Fool in 2011.
“I’m telling you what, he looked great yesterday,” said Whit Beckman, assistant to Pletcher. “With the way Todd explained it, the [Tom Fool] would be the plan.”
Caixa Eletronica, who finished third in the Toboggan for Pletcher and Repole, exited the race in good shape and remains on target for a start in the Grade 2 General George Handicap on February 20 at Laurel Park, Beckman said.
“The horse has showed in the past that he doesn’t need much space between races,” the assistant explained.
Beckman said the barn discovered How Do I Win, fourth in the Grade 3 Withers, grabbed a quarter at some point on Saturday.
“He looked good this morning,” said Beckman. “He must have grabbed a quarter on the outside of his right front foot, either before or after the race, maybe when he dropped [jockey] Cornelio [Velasquez] in the post parade.”
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The morning after her dominant win in Aqueduct’s $100,000 Correction Stakes, Nicole H was showing no signs of fatigue.
“She’s very good,” said trainer Mike Hushion. “Full of herself this morning. She came out of the race really bright.”
In her start prior to the Correction, Aqueduct’s January 7 Interborough, Nicole H prevailed by a neck over Winning Image, idling slightly after making the lead in deep stretch. Both races are run at six furlongs, and Nicole H rolled home a 2 ½-length winner in Saturday’s Correction, improving her inner-track record to a perfect 4-for-4.
“We weren’t sure why she kind of hung a little bit the last couple of jumps in her last race, maybe it was something mental,” said Hushion. “Ramon [Dominguez] said he just loose-reined her [yesterday] the last sixteenth of a mile and she did it all on her own. The time wasn’t very fast, but basically she was at three-quarters to the eighth pole and sprinted to the wire.”
After Saturday’s race, Hushion mentioned that Nicole H might reappear to defend her title in Aqueduct’s Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap run over the main track at seven furlongs on April 14. As of Sunday morning, no plans for the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley had been finalized.
“I’m not sure where we’re going to go next; we’ll have that conversation pretty soon. I thought she was exceptionally bright this morning and yesterday in the spitbox. [The race] was almost like a sturdy three-quarter of a mile work, that was the way you’d like one to work.”
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Withers runner-up Speightscity is likely to make his next appearance in the Gotham on March 3, according to Marcelo Arenas, assistant to trainer Gary Contessa. The son of Speightstown proved the best of the rest in Saturday’s race, finishing 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Tiger Walk.
“He had a very bad trip [when fifth in the Count Fleet],” Arenas said. “But he’s a nice horse, and we really think he’s the best horse we have in the barn. We believed in him, and he showed us yesterday he can do it. He ran a big race.”
Speightscity checked in fifth behind Alpha in the Count Fleet after a stumbling start and a wide trip. A maiden winner closing weekend at Saratoga going 1 1/8 miles, he finished ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and eighth in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct before winning an inner-track optional claimer on December 15 to cap his 2-year-old season.