01/02/2013 4:20PM

Aqueduct notes: Jacobson, Dutrow tie for New York Racing Association training title in 2012

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Saginaw won nine races for trainer David Jacobson and one race for Richard Dutrow Jr. in 2012.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – On the Aqueduct backside, their barns are separated by about 30 feet of road. In the standings on the New York Racing Association circuit for 2012, trainers David Jacobson and Richard Dutrow Jr. were inseparable.

For the first time since at least 1935 – that’s as far back as the New York Racing Association media guide goes – there was a tie for leading trainer on this circuit as both Jacobson and Dutrow finished with 110 wins. The race literally went down to the wire as Jacobson won two races Monday to pull ahead before Dutrow’s Gallant Fields won race 7 to forge the tie. Dutrow had a chance to win it outright, but his uncoupled entry of Induce and Point Taken finished third and 10th, respectively, in Monday’s finale.

For Jacobson, it was his first year-end title on this circuit. For Dutrow, it was his fourth, and the ninth time in the last 12 years he was the leading or second-leading trainer.

“I didn’t even know I was that close until two days before when somebody put it in the paper,” said Dutrow, leading trainer here in 2001, 2002, and 2005. “We’re very happy with the year we had.”

The title had a little more meaning to Jacobson, who returned to training in 2007 after a 25-year absence. He is the son of Howard “Buddy” Jacobson, who was a five-time leading trainer on this circuit, including in 1967 when he beat the Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens by one win.

“In 1967, I was worrying about my baseball cards,” the 58-year-old Jacobson said.

As a kid, Jacobson would hang around his father’s barn, walking horses in the afternoon, but not attending the races frequently.

“I knew how to take care of a horse, I didn’t know who was the favorite or anything about racing,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson followed in his father’s footsteps as a trainer until 1982, when he was forced to surrender his license to the state after he was charged with “failing to provide adequate and medical attention” to the horse Hugable Tom, who was euthanized in fall 1981.

Jacobson went into the real estate business before returning to the horses in 2007. He aspired to reach the top. This year, he was leading trainer at the Aqueduct winter, Belmont fall, and Aqueduct fall meets.

“I came back thinking that I could do it, but after being here about six months I realized it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought,” Jacobson said. “With the trainers that are around like Rick and Anthony Dutrow, Todd Pletcher, Shug McGaughey – some top, top names – I realized I had to roll up my sleeves and work that much harder. I’m very happy with where the stable is right now.”

Jacobson said he maintains between 45 to 50 horses, an ever changing number because of how much claiming he does and how many horses are claimed from him.

“Claiming horses are really tougher horses to train than stakes horses; a lot more issues come with them,” Jacobson said.

Arguably the highlight of the year for Jacobson was turning the claimer Saginaw into a multiple stakes winner. He took Saginaw for $30,000 from Dutrow in March and proceeded to win 9 of 12 races with the New York-bred, including six stakes. Saginaw earned $485,650 for Jacobson and Drawing Away Stable. Saginaw’s 10 wins in 2012 tied him with two other horses for the most wins last year.

Jacobson said to expect Saginaw back in early March.

Asked about his own goals in 2013, Jacobson said, “To win 111 races in New York.”

Nicole H becoming a finisher

While it is certainly noteworthy that Nicole H became the first filly or mare to win three straight runnings of the Interborough Stakes on Tuesday, more impressive was her continued maturation as a finisher.

After finding running room in upper stretch, Nicole H shot through a hole and polished off the race, beating Mildly Offensive by 1 1/4 lengths. It was the third straight stakes victory for Nicole H, her eighth overall. Five of those stakes wins have come over the inner track.

However, Nicole H has lost four stakes – including the Grade 1 Princess Rooney – by a half-length or less, in part because of her inability to finish.

“She had some races where she put her toes in the ground a little bit the last part of it and she got beat a couple of bad photos,” trainer Mike Hushion said. “But she seems to have gotten through that; running on now the last part of it.”

Nicole H, who earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure for Tuesday’s win, will now likely focus on the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel on Feb. 16 with a possible start in the $100,000 Correction here Feb. 2.

Arena Elvira to remain in New York

Arena Elvira, neck winner of Monday’s Ladies Handicap, will likely remain in New York and point to races like the $75,000 Affectionately on Jan. 26 and the $200,000 Top Flight on March 2, trainer Bill Mott said.

Arena Elvira, who had won five consecutive races from 2011-12, snapped a three-race losing streak with her victory over R Gypsy Gold, in which she earned an 80 Beyer.

“It had been slightly puzzling because her last couple of races were not up to par,” Mott said from Florida on Wednesday. “She’d been training really well, but didn’t put in the normal performances we’re used to seeing from her. She did come back and ran very well yesterday.”

Memorial service for Wachtel

A memorial service for longtime New York owner/breeder Ed Wachtel, who died Monday at the age of 81, will be held 11 a.m. Friday at the Congregation Sons of Israel, 1666 Pleasantville Road, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

Wachtel bred and raced several stakes winners, including Claramount, the 1989 New York-bred horse of the year, Stalwart Member, Smokin Mel, and Penny’s Reshoot.