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Edited NYRA Staff Release – Highland Yard’s stakes-placed New York-bred Snicket will wheel back on short notice in Saturday’s $120,000 Garland of Roses, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by David Duggan, the 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid mare tracked in second throughout in a six-furlong open optional-claiming sprint last out on December 2 at the Big A won, by a neck, by stakes-winner Secret Love. That effort came on the heels of a gate-to-wire open allowance win on October 20 at Belmont at the Big A.

Duggan said he is hopeful Snicket can pick up the pieces behind a well-regarded pair of sophomore rivals entering off a series of unfortunate events in graded-stakes winner Hot Peppers, who scratched out of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint; and Grade 2-placed Smash Ticket, who finished a distant sixth after being clipped by a rival in the Grade 2 Raven Run.

“The last two races have been pretty good. We dabbled with some shoe changes on her that seem to have worked,” Duggan said. “We’re dipping into deep waters with these 3-year-old fillies that had questionable runs the last time and had a bit of a breather, but they’re good fillies and we’re just hoping we can get a piece of it.”

Snicket has made two previous stakes starts, both in state-bred company, finishing fifth in the Dancin Renee in June at Belmont Park and second in the Union Avenue in August at Saratoga Race Course.

“She’s probably going to be retired in the New Year, so some open-company black type is the main goal,” Duggan said. “She bounced out of the race in good shape and to add value to fillies at this time of year is a key goal.”

Snicket will exit post 3 under Luis Rodriguez Castro with a 15-1 morning-line assessment. Duggan said she is likely to chase the pace of her younger rivals.

“They’ve got more speed than us and we like to sit just off the pace and hope there’s a glitch in their giddy-up,” Duggan said. “It’s coming back a shade quicker than you’d like, but she’s trained well and come out of that last race in good shape.”

Bred in the Empire State by Stonewall Farm, Snicket boasts a record of 27-4-11-2 for purse earnings of $379,810. Snicket is out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Ever So Pretty, who is a full-sister to multiple graded-stakes winner Stormello and graded-stakes winner My Best Brother and is a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Gala Award.

Dublin Fjord Stables, Racepoint Stables, Kevin D. Hilbert and Thomas E. O’Keefe’s multiple graded-stakes winner Drafted breezed three-eighths in 35.60 Tuesday over the Belmont dirt training track in his first work since finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler on October 29 at Belmont at the Big A.

“He worked good the other day,” Duggan said. “He never really stopped training. He just ran a few hard races and he’s older and it takes a little longer to recover. We let him get his feet back underneath him and go from there.”

The 8-year-old Field Commission gelding, who boasts career earnings of $1,083,193, has posted a record of 8-3-1-1 this year led by Grade 3 wins in the Toboggan in February at the Big A and the Runhappy in May at Belmont.

He has kept impressive company in his last three outings, finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Forego in August at the Spa won by Cody’s Wish, who exited that effort to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Drafted was then third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh in October here won by next-out Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint victor Elite Power; and a close fifth last out in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, captured by Runninsonofagun, who finished a neck shy of victory in the next-out Grade 3 Fall Highweight here in November.

Duggan said Drafted will follow a familiar path, targeting the six-furlong $135,000 Gravesend on December 30 with an eye towards the seven-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan on January 28. The popular grey has competed in both those events the past two years.

“It seems a logical idea right now. He’s going to be 9-years-old and if he can compete at this level, great,” Duggan said. “But I know the ownership won’t run him for a tag. So, if he can’t compete at the stakes level we’ll consider taking a back seat. He won’t go down to the claiming rank again.”

Win or lose, Duggan said he has appreciated his time with the veteran sprinter, competing in some of the biggest sprint races in the country.

“It’s fantastic,” Duggan said. “It’s like putting pure adrenaline in your vein. You just enjoy the ride.”


Dr. Blute returns to action in $100K Alex M. Robb; White Abarrio targets G1 Pegasus World Cup

After a triumphant effort around two turns against fellow state-breds in the Empire Classic on October 30, Flanagan Racing’s Dr. Blute will cut back to a one-turn mile for next Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb for New York-breds 3-years-old and upward at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Dr. Blute, a 4-year-old Not This Time gelding, had never been past seven furlongs until joining the barn of Saffie Joseph, Jr. over the summer. Following a third on debut for Joseph, Jr. going six furlongs in July at Saratoga, he stretched out to one mile out of the Spa’s Wilson Chute, finishing a narrow second to dual stakes-placed Best Idea.

“You always got to like the cutback with a horse that has speed. He handled two turns last time and he’s obviously proven himself at a mile,” Joseph, Jr. said. “We’re very happy with how he’s doing. He had some good breezes so far and he’ll have one more work coming into the race. He seems to be arriving in good order, so hopefully he can keep his good form up.”

Dr. Blute was campaigned by John Kimmel through his first seven starts, which included a triumphant debut in February 2021 over a sloppy and sealed track at the Big A.

Bred in the Empire State by Hidden Lake Farm and Axle Ahlschwede, Dr. Blute is out of the Friends Lake mare Truss, who is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Khancord Kid – the dam of 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Bar of Gold.

Joseph, Jr. said he also plans on running Wynwood Thoroughbreds and Make A Run Stable’s Forces Sweetheart, a six-length winner on debut at Gulfstream Park, in the $500,000 NYSSS Fifth Avenue for eligible New York-sired 2-year-old fillies on the same day.

Joseph, Jr. said White Abarrio, who finished third in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets on December 3, will target the Grade 1, $3 million Pegasus World Cup on January 28 at Gulfstream Park.

The Grade 1 Florida Derby-winning son of Race Day was beaten only a half-length after battling to the inside of Mind Control and Get Her Number in the stretch. The effort, which was his first going one turn since last October, registered a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure. He entered the Cigar Mile off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby.

“I was very, very thankful to see him run back to his top form. I thought the Pennsylvania Derby was a sneaky good race,” Joseph, Jr. said. “This race, he ran top numbers and was beaten by a good horse in Mind Control. At the top of the stretch, I thought we had a chance to kick on, but we hit a flat spot and horses like Mind Control are hard to get by. Overall, it was a good run and we were pleased with the effort.”


Stakes-placed Macdonough ready for $500K NYSSS Great White Way

Chauncey D. Cole, III’s stakes-placed Macdonough will look to give trainer Rachel Sells her second career stakes win in next Saturday’s $500,000 NYSSS Great White Way, a seven-furlong sprint for eligible New York-sired 2-year-olds, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The bay son of Teuflesberg arrives from a third-place finish in the Tin Cup Chalice on October 25 at Finger Lakes Racetrack, where he finished 10 1/2 lengths in arrears of runaway winner Allure of Money after a prominent trip under Joel Sone. That effort came on the heels of an upset maiden coup at odds of 38-1 on September 21 sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over the same course in wire-to-wire fashion.

“He’s a scrappy horse,” said Sells. “He’s one that’s not afraid to look a horse in the eye and try to keep going with them. He’s got that fight in him that you look for in a racehorse. He’s not the biggest horse, but the heart is there.”

Sells, who started her first horse in 2017, is in search of her second stakes victory after winning last year’s Jack Betta Be Right at Finger Lakes with Mad for Fame. The native of Fairport, N.Y., a small town 11 miles outside of Rochester, grew up going to the races at Finger Lakes with her father, who got her interested in the sport.

“I was a hunter-jumper in the professional world to start, and then I switched over to the racehorses,” said Sells. “My dad was really into being a spectator and he liked to gamble, so he used to take me out of school and to the track with him. That’s where my love all started.”

Sells was a longtime assistant to trainer Karl Grusmark and relished her time learning from the veteran conditioner.

“I was a hotwalker for Karl Grusmark and he took me under his wing,” said Sells. “I was his assistant for 10 years and he taught me a ton about the horsemanship and an old school kind of way of training. He let me fall on my face a couple times and was always there to help pick me up and move me along, so I give a lot of credit to him for really teaching me about the aspects of the racing world.”

Sells has brought a small string to Belmont Park for the winter, and also maintains a string at Penn National Race Course. She recently started three horses at the Aqueduct fall meet, hitting the board twice when April Antics finished third in a November 10 claiming event and One Whirlwind Ride finished a close second in a $16,000 claimer on Sunday.

“We’ve got a string at Belmont and Penn National and then a couple horses at a training facility in Kentucky,” said Sells. “We’re just trying to hustle to get a winner.”

As of Friday, Sells career record stands at 119-143-136 from 1,149 starts and earnings of $2,409,060. She has four horses entered at the Big A this weekend, including Frank Fiumera and Come What May Racing’s well-bred maiden Color Commish in Race 6 on Sunday. The son of Commissioner is a descendant of 1997 Grade 1 Alabama winner Runup the Colors.

Macdonough, who was bred in the Empire State by Cole, III and McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, is out of the twice-winning Circular Quay mare Getthemoneyhoney, a direct maternal descendant of multiple graded stakes-winner and 1977 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Our Mims. His second dam, Maresa, is a half-sister to 1997 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Elmhurst.


Aqueduct fall meet Week 7 stakes probables

Saturday, December 17

$500K NYSSS Great White Way

Probable: Bustino Santino (Bruce Levine), General Banker (James Ferraro), Incantation (H. James Bond), Jackson Heights (Orlando Noda), Laurel Valley (Todd Pletcher), Lifetime of Chance (Linda Rice), Macdonough (Rachel Sells), Playingwithmatches (Mark Hennig), Thtwasthenthisisnw (Michael Gorham), Vacation Dance (John Kimmel)

Possible: On the Ledge (Michelle Nevin)

$500K NYSSS Fifth Avenue

Probable: Central Speed (John Terranova), Dream On Cara (Mitchell Friedman), Forces Sweetheart (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Les Bon Temps (Mike Maker), Little Linzee (Domenick Schettino), Midtown Lights (Brad Cox), Our Rosie Diamonds (Amira Chichakly), Sweet Liberty (Patrick Quick)

$100,000 Alex M. Robb

Probable: Barese (Mike Maker), Dr. Blute (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Perfect Munnings (Todd Pletcher), Reggae Music Man (Patrick Reynolds), Sea Foam (Michelle Giangiulio), Three Jokers (John Terranova)

Possible: Chestertown (Steve Asmussen), Wudda U Think Now (Rudy Rodriguez)

$100,000 Bay Ridge

Probable: Caragate (Mitchell Friedman), Fight On Lucy (Patrick Kelly), Know It All Audrey (Oscar Barrera III), Let Her Inspire U (Todd Pletcher), Venti Valentine (Jorge Abreu)

Possible: Ice Princess (Linda Rice), Mashnee Girl (Mark Hennig)

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