12/09/2011 3:07PM

Aqueduct: Crossbow looks ready for a win

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Crossbow appeared on his way to a promising 3-year-old season after winning a maiden race in New York and a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park last January.

But a knee chip that required surgery sidelined Crossbow the remainder of the year. After suffering a narrow loss in his return to the races in October, Crossbow should be ready to return to the winner’s circle when he runs in Sunday’s $60,000 Hunch Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct. Crossbow is coupled in the wagering with Mysticism – both are owned by Darley Stable – but that horse is expected to scratch, according to trainer Tom Albertrani. Both Crossbow and Mysticism have the same front-running style.

Kiaran McLaughlin trains Crossbow and made a last-minute decision to enter him in the Hunch, which may explain why he has Channing Hill named to ride instead of Ramon Dominguez, who is on Parent’s Honor.

Dominguez was on Crossbow when he won a maiden race over the inner track last Jan. 2 and again when he was beaten neck by Gantry in an allowance race at Belmont. Crossbow set some solid fractions on the lead and just got caught late by Gantry, who ran six furlongs in 1:08.93.

“Tough beat,” McLaughlin said about the Oct. 23 race. “He was cruising, looked like he was going to win. Ramon said he was shocked that anyone came and got us because he was finishing, he was running.”

The loss may be easier to take when one considers Gantry came back to win the Thanksgiving Day Handicap at Fair Grounds in his next start.

With Mysticism expected to scratch, Crossbow’s potential pace-partner is Freudian Dilemma, who ships in from Parx for trainer Carl Doran.

The horse to fear late is Parent’s Honor, who also ships in from Parx for trainer Tony Dutrow. Parent’s Honor comes in off two straight allowance wins. Dutrow scratched Parent’s Honor out of the Fall Highweight.

“I felt like my horse never proved himself against quality,” Dutrow said when asked about the scratch. “Although I didn’t think a lot of the Fall Highweight, I wasn’t feeling good about carrying 128 pounds, and I felt like something easier would come up. My horse is doing great and it’s the last 3-year-old opportunity he’ll have.”

Bug Juice, a multiple stakes winner at 2, attempts to bounce back from a fourth-place finish in a stakes at Penn National on Nov. 23.

Sam Sparkle, runner-up to Mysticism in a Nov. 10 allowance race, completes the field.