12/29/2011 2:28PM

Aqueduct: Icabad Crane, Stormy's Majesty meet again in Alex M. Robb Stakes

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The last time they met, Icabad Crane needed every inch of the sloppy Saratoga stretch to beat Stormy’s Majesty by a nose in the Evan Shipman Stakes. Five months later, Icabad Crane and Stormy’s Majesty renew acquaintances in Saturday’s $75,000 Alex M. Robb, the featured event on the nine-race New Year’s Eve program at Aqueduct.

Icabad Crane, who won last year’s Robb, and Stormy’s Majesty are two of eight horses entered in this 1 1/16-mile race restricted to New York-breds. Stakes winners Inherit the Gold and Groomedforvictory add depth to the field.

Icabad Crane, a 6-year-old son of Jump Start, is winless in three starts since the Evan Shipman. He finished next-to-last in the West Point on turf before finishing fourth to Haynesfield in the Empire Classic at Belmont in October and third to Groomedforvictory in the Adirondack Holme over Aqueduct’s main track in November. Those last two dirt races were run around one turn, and Icabad Crane has recorded six of his seven career victories around two turns. Moreover, four of those two-turn wins have come over the inner track.

“He likes the track,” Graham Motion, the trainer of Icabad Crane, said. “I think the two turns will help him, whether he’s good enough to turn the tables on [Groomedforvictory] I don’t know. He’s certainly doing well.”

Icabad Crane would benefit from a contested pace and might need Groomedforvictory or Spa City Fever to put some pressure on Stormy’s Majesty early on.

Stormy’s Majesty came out of the Evan Shipman with a foot problem. But he has a strong work tab over the last six weeks that indicates he’s ready. Stormy’s Majesty has shown an affinity to fire fresh in the past, winning first time out as a 2-year-old, as a 3-year-old off a five-month layoff, and as a 4-year-old off a four-month layoff.

“When they do that, they make the trainer look good, you know,” trainer Dominic Galluscio said. “I liked his six-furlong work [Dec. 17], he finished well. You got to get some help from the track – hope there’s a little bit of a speed bias.”

Stormy’s Majesty is the primary speed from the rail under Cornelio Velasquez.

Groomedforvictory has enjoyed the bulk of his success in one-turn-mile races including a victory in the Adirondack Holme on Nov. 20 – his first start off an eight-month layoff. He finished third, a head behind Icabad Crane, in the 2010 Evan Shipman at Saratoga going two turns at Saratoga. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said he wanted to give the gelding a chance to prove himself over the inner track.

Inherit the Gold is already proven over the inner track, having won 5 of 7 starts. He comes off a second-place finish to Ron the Greek in the Queens County, against open company, and gets a rider change to Junior Alvarado for this spot. He, too, would fare better with a contested early pace.

Spa City Fever, Tap Attack, Midnight Billy, and Uncle T Seven complete the field.

Alex M. Robb S., Post Time: 3:37 ET Saturday

Purse: $75,000; 1 1/16 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Stormy's Majesty

D. Galluscio

C. Velasquez

3-1

1

Spa City Fever

P. Kelly

C. Lopez

20-1

1

Tap Attack

R. Persaud

A. Lezcano

30-1

1

Icabad Crane

H. Motion

D. Cohen

5-1

1

Midnight Billy

J. Ortiz

J. Valdivia, Jr.

30-1

1

Inherit The Gold

J. Hooper

J. Alvarado

5-2

1

Groomedforvictory

R. Dutrow, Jr.

R. Dominguez

2-1

1

Uncle T Seven

J. Aquilino

J. Espinoza

10-1