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Aqueduct: Draws for Carter Handicap, Bay Shore and Comely
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Still in search of his first victory since winning last year’s Preakness, Shackleford will cut back to seven furlongs in Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct. This will be the shortest distance at which Shackleford has run since winning a maiden race at Churchill Downs in November 2010.
Shackleford, who is listed as the longest shot in the field by NYRA oddsmaker Eric Donovan, will meet a talent-laden group of one-turn horses in the Carter, including Caleb’s Posse and Jackson Bend – both Grade 1 winners at seven furlongs – and the multiple stakes winner Calibrachoa.
The Carter will go as race 10 on an 11-race card that is topped by the $1 million Wood Memorial.
Last year at this time, Shackleford was on the Triple Crown trail following a head loss to Dialed In in the Florida Derby. Shackleford finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby before beating Derby winner Animal Kingdom in the Preakness. He completed the Triple Crown campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.
Following that, he displayed inconsistent form, concluding his 3-year-old season with a second-place finish to Caleb’s Posse in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
“Last year, he had to run long because all the quality 3-year-old races were really long, and he did it well,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He ran big in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, we’re going to try him in a couple of shorter races and see what directions it takes us.”
Romans, as are the connections of several others in here, is using the Carter as a stepping-stone to the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 28.
In his lone start this year, Shackleford finished seventh as the 3-1 favorite in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park at 1 1/8 miles.
“Maybe I ran a shorter horse than I thought I did,” Romans said. “I know he’s not short now. He’s sharp and fit and he’s worked really well for this.”
Jesus Castanon will ride Shackleford from post 4.
Jackson Bend, who won the Grade 1 Forego last year at Saratoga, comes off a third-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Handicap in his last start. The last time he raced at Aqueduct was when he finished second to Eskendereya in the 2010 Wood Memorial. Corey Nakatani rides.
Calibrachoa defeated Caleb’s Posse by a neck in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, making him a perfect 5 for 5 over Aqueduct’s inner track. His one victory over the main track came in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler last fall. He will break from post 3.
Caleb’s Posse, who beat Uncle Mo in the King’s Bishop at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill – both Grade 1 races – will break from post 2 as the 122-pound highweight.
Emcee, third in the Tom Fool, and Tahitian Warrior, comprise a Godolphin Racing entry.
Bay Shore: Hardened Wildcat seeks 4 in row
Trainer Chad Brown was planning to run two horses in Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, but had to keep Beggarthyneighbor in the barn after that horse developed a quarter crack.
So, Brown will go with Hardened Wildcat, who has won three consecutive races including the Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes in his last start.
In the Capossela, Hardened Wildcat was last turning for home but came with a powerful stretch kick to run down Beggarthyneighbor.
“He made some powerful move in the stretch,” Brown said. “Turning for home, I didn’t think he was going to win the race, he seemed like he was winding up for a run. He made a devastating move in the lane that was very impressive. We’re excited about the horse.”
Hardened Wildcat drew post 6 in the eight-horse field and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado.
Trinniberg, six-length winner of the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 10, drew the rail and will likely be the horse to catch and beat under Willie Martinez.
There appears to be other speed in the field, including Copy My Swagger, Perfect Trippi, and How Do I Win.
Others entered include Phil Dancer, King and Crusader, and Maan.
Comely: Still strong without Agave Kiss
Though the connections of Agave Kiss opted to pass the race, Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Comely Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile came up pretty salty with the likes of Broadway’s Alibi, Millionreasonswhy, and Singlet.
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez said he didn’t feel comfortable running Agave Kiss a mile just four weeks after she won the Grade 3 Cicada at six furlongs.
“She’s training very good, but I only work her two times for this race,” Rodriguez said.”You want to go 100 percent right, you don’t want to second guess yourself. I’m ready to try her long, timing-wise it’s no good for us.”
Rodriguez said he would look at several options for Agave Kiss’s next start, including possibly the Trevose Stakes at Parx Racing on April 17.
Broadway’s Alibi, a 16 3/4-length winner of the Grade 2 Forward Gal on Jan. 29 at Gulfstream, drew the rail and looks like the one to catch. Outside of her are Off Limits, Millionreasonswhy, Nuffsaid Nuffsaid, Welcome Guest, Singlet, and Bourbonstreetgirl.
The Comely goes as race 7 and begins the all-stakes pick four with a guaranteed pool of $500,000.
Boys At Tosconova nearly ready again
After three weeks off the work tab, Boys At Tosconova has now breezed twice in six days, drilling six furlongs in 1:13.42 on Wednesday morning over Aqueduct’s main track.
Boys At Tosconova, the 2010 Hopeful winner, has not run since winning an allowance race Jan. 27 at Gulfstream, his third consecutive allowance win since returning from a layoff. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said he has nothing picked out for Boys At Tosconova, though he said the Westchester at Belmont on April 28 is a possibility.
“I don’t see a race right now, as soon as I do, he’s ready,” Dutrow said. “I wanted to run him in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, but something went wrong behind again. We didn’t have enough time to get him fixed up the right way to run.”
Also working Wednesday for Dutrow was Trickmeister, who went four furlongs in 51.07 seconds. He has not run since finishing sixth in the Donn Handicap on Feb. 11, his first loss.
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