12/02/2011 4:33PM

Aqueduct: Live for Today goes two turns in Damon Runyon

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. − Two-year-olds trained by Bill Mott and Shug McGaughey are entered in Sunday’s $65,000 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-breds at Aqueduct, but the horse to beat in the race may be trained by Dominick Schettino.

Schettino sends out Live for Today, a son of Mineshaft who should relish the mile-and-70-yard distance of the Damon Runyon, which is being run for the 33rd time. A field of nine was entered for the Damon Runyon, including the Mott-trained Mississippi Duel and the McGaughey-trained Coalition.

Live for Today finished third to Coalition when Coalition made his debut at Belmont in the mud Oct. 14. Live for Today came back to win a one-mile maiden race at Aqueduct by three lengths. That race was run around one turn; this race will be run around two.

[MORE: Full coverage of the Sunday card from Aqueduct]

“Getting him two turns is really what we’ve been planning on doing,” Schettino said. “He’s a horse that’s improving with every race. He’s getting better and better. He’s just learning how to run.”

Ryan Curatolo, who won four consecutive races on Friday’s card, has the call on Live for Today from post 8.

Mississippi Duel, a son of Bernstein, won an off-the-turf maiden race at Belmont on Oct. 1 going 1 1/16 miles around one turn. He didn’t run again for seven weeks when he finished seventh in a first-level allowance race going six furlongs over Aqueduct’s main track Nov. 18.

“We ran him a little short the other day,” said Leana Willaford, Mott’s New York assistant. “He wants to go a little further than that.”

Willaford noted that Mississippi Duel prefers to be into the race a little more than he was in his two turf races at Saratoga. Corey Nakatani rides from post 7.

Coalition won a maiden race by 4 3/4 lengths Oct. 14 before finishing sixth, beaten five lengths by Tug of War, in a first-level allowance race Nov. 18. Coalition broke slowly and was five wide.

Tug of War is the only multiple winner in the field. He was the last winner saddled by trainer Ramon Hernandez, who retired earlier in the week at age 86. The horse, owned in part by Hernandez’s wife Mary, will run in the name of trainer Heriberto Cedano.

Disco On, Think I’m Hooked, Swag Daddy, Pretension, and Missilewhileuwork complete the field.

Rodriguez thinking big with Agave Kiss

Christmas may be right around the corner, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez is thinking about a different holiday, at least when it comes to Agave Kiss, his New York-bred 2-year-old filly who won a first-level allowance race with devastating ease Thursday.

Rodriguez said his major goal next year for Agave Kiss is the Grade 1 Prioress, a race historically run July 4.

“Hopefully, she gets us there,” Rodriguez said, who trains Agave Kiss for Flying Zee Stables, which will keep a handful of horses in training while dispersing the majority of its racing stock Monday in Timonium. “She looks like she’s really good.”

Agave Kiss won her debut by 6 1/4 lengths Oct. 22, running six furlongs in 1:09.79 and earning a 90 Beyer. Thursday, Agave Kiss was practically eased from the eighth pole to the wire, yet still won by 10 1/2 lengths. She ran six furlongs in 1:13.16 and earned a 71 Beyer.

Rodriguez said he would probably point Agave Kiss to a couple of minor stakes races here during the winter.

Poor lighting affects placing in Thursday race

The stewards had to declare a dead-heat for third in Thursday’s nightcap because of insufficient lighting on the turf course.

While Ziptronic won by 2 1/2 lengths, it was a photo finish between three horses for the next two placings. Ocean Seven was clearly second by a neck, but it was too dark to determine who finished third and fourth because it was not possible to see the mirror image from the photo-finish camera. Parc des Princes and Waywardwillie were each awarded third.

The race was run with the rails out 18 feet on the turf course.

There were four turf races carded each day from Friday through Sunday.

Friday’s ninth was taken off the turf, but because officials did not think the course could handle four races on the day. Plans did call to run four turf races Saturday and Sunday. The last race on the program both days is scheduled for the turf, though the post time is 4:05 p.m., 10 minutes earlier than on weekdays.

P.J. Campo, NYRA’s vice president/director of racing, said NYRA would put an official at the wire for the last race if conditions warrant.

Turf racing will come to an end by next weekend at the latest.

Inherit the Gold targets Queens County

Inherit the Gold, who went 4 for 4 over Aqueduct’s inner track last winter, will return to that surface and around two turns in next Saturday’s Queens County at 1 3/16 miles.

Inherit the Gold, who is 5 for 6 overall on the inner track, won a division of the New York Stallion Stakes by a neck going seven furlongs Nov. 13.

Trainer Jim Hooper said he doesn’t plan to breeze Inherit the Gold leading up to the race because he gets plenty out of his gallops, which was evident Friday morning when the gray gelding went a spirited 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park’s training track under exercise rider on Manny Acosta.

“He’s the happiest he’s ever been,” Hooper said Friday morning at Belmont. “Maybe he likes the surface here.”

Others pointing to the Queens County include Arson Squad, Fonda Ronda Won, Ron the Greek, and possibly Redding Colliery.

* An all-Curatolo pick four returned $344 on Friday. He won the second with Awesome Acerno ($5.60), third with Brooklyn Red ($4.20), fourth with Warrior Marie ($8.20), and fifth on Schillerette ($13.40).

Damon Runyon Stakes, Post Time: 3:37 ET Sunday

Purse: $65,000; 1 mile 70 yards

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Disco On

R. Lugovich

C. Montalvo

20-1

1

Think I'm Hooked

G. Contessa

D. Cohen

8-1

1

Swag Daddy

R. Dutrow Jr.

J. Alvarado

3-1

1

Tug of War

H. Cedano

C. Velasquez

5-1

1

Pretension

C. Grove

J. Santiago

5-1

1

Coalition

C. McGaughey III

I. Ortiz

5-1

1

Mississippi Duel

W. Mott

C. Nakatani

12-1

1

Live for Today

D. Schettino

R. Curatolo

4-1

1

Missilewhileuwork

D. Galluscio

C. Lopez

15-1