12/08/2011 4:25PM

Aqueduct: Inherit the Gold back on inner track for Queens County Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Inherit the Gold is 5 for 6 over the inner track at Aqueduct and is among the favorites in the Queens County.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – When trainer Jim Hooper led his 5-year-old gelding Inherit the Gold onto Aqueduct’s main track for the Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Stakes on Nov. 13, he noticed that the horse’s ears perked up.

“I think he likes that place pretty well,” said Hooper, whose horse rallied from off the pace that day to win by a neck, his seventh career victory at Aqueduct.

While that race was over the main track, it is Aqueduct’s inner track that Inherit the Gold likes best. Inherit the Gold is 5 for 6 over the inner oval, including a perfect 5 for 5 around two turns. On Saturday, he’ll put that record to the test in the $65,000 Queens County Stakes run at 1 3/16 miles over the inner.

Inherit the Gold will face four rivals in the Queens County, including stakes winners Ron the Greek and Arson Squad. Inherit the Gold, who will break from post 3 under Cornelio Velasquez, is the highweight at 123 pounds, spotting his rivals 4 to 6 pounds.

Hooper was on pins and needles Wednesday, fretting whether or not the race would draw enough entries to be carded. It was, and now Hooper enters the race with a lot of confidence, given that this is his horse’s third start off a layoff and first on the inner track since last March when he won the Kings Point. Inherit the Gold won all four of his starts over the inner last winter.

“I was glad they got enough horses to run,” Hooper said. “Two turns at Aqueduct’s inner track has always been where he’s brought his ‘A’ game. He’s ready to go. When they’re ready, you want to lead them over there. I’m sure there’s somebody that’s going to test us.”

The major threat to Inherit the Gold is probably Ron the Greek, who comes off a five-length victory in an overnight stakes here Nov. 17. Ron the Greek did benefit that day from race favorite Rail Trip stumbling at the start and unseating his rider.

Still, the connections of Ron the Greek believe the horse has overcome some physical issues that plagued him during the summer and believe he’s ready to put forth a peak effort. As a 3-year-old, Ron the Greek did win the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes for different connections.

“He had a couple of issues, we gave him time off and took care of them, and he really came back the right way,” said Rudolphe Brisset, who is overseeing trainer Bill Mott’s New York string in the absence of assistant trainer Leana Willaford. “Leana did a really job with him; she was galloping him, and he’s not easy.”

In a race without much speed, Ron the Greek has the potential to set the pace while Inherit the Gold figures to try and come from off of it.

Arson Squad, beaten favorite in this race a year ago; Ea, an uncoupled stablemate of Arson Squad; and Fonda Ronda Won complete the field.