02/21/2012 12:20PM

Aqueduct: Crossbow puts stakes on hold for third-level allowance

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Barbara D. Livingston
Crossbow has opted for a third-level allowance on Thursday at Aqueduct over the Tom Fool Handicap on March 3.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Following a solid three-length victory in an allowance race here three weeks ago, Crossbow seemed destined to make his graded stakes debut in the $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap on March 3 at Aqueduct.

But with another exciting sprinter in the barn and another allowance option available, Crossbow’s graded stakes debut will wait for another day. Instead of the Tom Fool, Crossbow makes his next start in a $66,000 third-level allowance race that serves as Aqueduct’s feature on Thursday’s nine-race program.

Crossbow, a 4-year-old son of Bernardini, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum’s Darley Stable and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. On the same day (Feb. 3) that Crossbow won a second-level allowance at Aqueduct, Emcee – also from the Darley-McLaughlin barn – won a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream. His gaudy 107 Beyer Speed Figure earned him a stakes opportunity that will come in the Tom Fool.

Third-level allowance races rarely fill at Aqueduct at this time of year, so McLaughlin was more than happy to use Thursday’s race for Crossbow.

“Emcee and Crossbow are real similar,” McLaughlin said. “When they’re using a three-other-than, we were happy to help out. We’re one of the favorites. We feel we have to step up with Emcee and give him a test.”

McLaughlin noted that Crossbow won his last race “as easy as could be.” It was a big bounce-back effort after a failed two-turn experiment.

Crossbow appears to be a need-the-lead type and will most likely try to get it under Ramon Dominguez on Thursday.

He could find himself dueling with or chasing Rock Yard, who makes his return to the races off an eight-month layoff for trainer Tony Dutrow.

Rock Yard, a 5-year-old son of Tapit, has not run since finishing second to Golddigger’s Boy in the $200,000 Don Levine Memorial at Parx Racing on June 25. That was the fifth consecutive victory for Golddigger’s Boy, who had that streak ended by Uncle Mo in last October’s Kelso.

Dutrow said Rock Yard “was not moving right” in his training following that race, and he gave the horse a vacation. Rock Yard returned to the work tab at Palm Meadows on New Year’s Day and has seven breezes, including a bullet half-mile in 47.88 seconds over the inner track last Saturday.

“I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Dutrow, who won last weekend’s As Indicated Stakes with Marilyn’s Guy off an 11-month layoff. “I think he’s at the very top of his game. I know that race is not coming up easy, but I’m looking forward to getting him going again.”

Since losing 10 straight starts, the stakes-winning Temecula Creek, an 8-year-old son of Gulch, has won his last two, albeit against cheaper. He is being offered for the optional claiming tag of $75,000.

Leave of Absence, who won an optional claimer over the inner track last out, and Rustler Hustler, 0 for 2 on dirt, complete the field.