Unlike the spring, summer, and early fall, when the stalls at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course are full, the local colony of horses has been depleted as the bigger outfits head south.
For Saturday’s Valentine’s Day feature, the 15th running of the $65,000-added Dearly Precious, Byrnes’ search led him to Maryland, where he convinced trainer Michael Trombetta to supplement the Virginia-bred Listentothewindblo to this six-furlong sprint for three-year-old fillies. The Dearly Precious will be race 3 on a nine-race card that will feature a $250,000-guranteed late Pick 4 on races 6-9. First race post is 12:30 p.m.
“She’s been training well and Andrew called to invite us,” Trombetta said. “So, we accepted the invitation.”
Of course, anyone who has followed Trombetta’s career knows he is not here just to be gracious. He had trained for about 20 years before drawing national attention with Sweetnorthernsaint, who was the favorite in the 2006 Kentucky Derby. He ran seventh behind Barbaro, but came back with a runner-up finish to Bernardini in the Preakness. Trombetta has since continued to move up in the national standings.
Listentothewindblo, a daughter of Partner’s Hero, has had three career starts, all at her home track at Laurel, Md. In her maiden voyage, she ran second at five and a half furlongs, but finished well. In her next start, she caught a muddy track and got up to win by a neck.
Her most recent effort was at six furlongs on January 21, when she ran second, beaten four lengths.
“That was a speed-favoring track and she caught a horse that was on the lead from start to finish,” Trombetta said. “She just followed that speed all the way around.”
Also convincing Trombetta to ship north was the fact that he also intends to enter unbeaten Not for Silver in Sunday’s $65,000-added Fred “Cappy” Capossela for three-year-olds at six furlongs.
Trombetta is giving Listentothewindblo every opportunity to succeed on Saturday, and has even secured the services of Aqueduct’s leading jockey, Ramon Dominguez. They will break from Post 2 in the field of five.
Drawing the rail is Liza Too, who has a pair of seconds and a win in three career starts. Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., she gets a return call from jockey Richard Migliore.
Dream Play has had but two starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, but encountered plenty of trouble in her fourth-place finish behind J.J. Cuvee, Liza Too and Yo Karakorum on January 11. That was also her first race since May 15, 2008.
“We thought that if she could break running, she would be up near the lead,” said McLaughlin, who is in Florida. “But she got into some traffic problems. Still, she’s a nice filly and she made a pretty nice run once she got clear. I think she probably needed the race, too, because she had been away so long.”
Spina began her 2009 campaign with a neck loss on January 14. Jockey C.C. Lopez gets a return mount on the During filly for trainer David Donk.
Completing the field is Chattertown, a Speightstown filly who broke her maiden in a dead-heat at Philadelphia Park on January 4 for trainer Steve Klesaris.