12/09/2013 2:54PM

Aqueduct: Racing shifts to inner track Wednesday

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Barbara D. Livingston
Escrow Kid finished third but was placed second via disqualification in the Dave’s Friend Stakes at Laurel Park last month.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The light snow that fell around these parts late Sunday afternoon and was forecast again for Tuesday were the first clues that winter has arrived in the Northeast. Wednesday’s opening of Aqueduct’s inner track seals the deal.

Just in time for Mother Nature, racing on this circuit shifts to the winterized inner track Wednesday and figures to remain there until mid-March, depending on the weather. The majority of races over that span will be run at either six furlongs or a mile and 70 yards – 22 of the first 27 races are carded at those distances.

The schedule has undergone some alteration from winters past. There is no holiday break this year. In fact, Aqueduct will be open 10 of 11 days from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, with only Dec. 30 dark.

Beginning Jan. 9, Aqueduct will conduct live racing on a Thursday-through-Monday schedule. In February, Aqueduct cuts back to four days a week, Fridays through Mondays, before resuming a Thursday-through-Monday schedule in March.

As Princess of Sylmar proved last year, a good horse can winter in New York. Princess of Sylmar won the Busanda and Busher stakes over the inner track in a year that saw her win four Grade 1 races, including the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama.

The Busher and Busanda, as well as the Gazelle over Aqueduct’s main track April 5, offer qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason, trained by Leah Gyarmati, could be using that path this year.

The winter meet features three graded stakes for 3-year-olds that offer qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. The Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome on Jan. 4, the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on Feb. 1, and the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham on March 1 might offer the path of least resistance to the Derby.

Irad Ortiz Jr. beat out his brother, Jose, 79-76, for top honors among jockeys at last year’s winter meet. They figure to battle it out again this year, with Cornelio Velasquez, Junior Alvarado, David Cohen, and Rajiv Maragh heading the list of pursuers. Manuel Franco and Emmanuel Esquivel top the apprentice roster.

Rudy Rodriguez (41) and David Jacobson (34) were the leading trainers last winter and are likely to vie for top honors this winter. Jacobson is the leading trainer on the NYRA circuit in 2013 with 141 winners.

Rodriguez and Jacobson runners meet twice Wednesday, including in the $52,000 starter/optional-claiming sprint in which both horsemen have two-horse coupled entries. Jacobson sends out last-out winners Moments Notiz and Ground Force, while Rodriguez has Head Heart Hoof and Dawly.

Moments Notiz, in his first start for Jacobson after having raced at Indiana Downs, romped by 6 3/4 lengths here Nov. 21, earning a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Ground Force won in a spot like this Nov. 8 in his first start off a claim.

Dawly has won two straight after losing 15 consecutive races, while Head Heart Hoof, who won the Grade 3 Toboggan over the inner track last winter, returns off a six-month layoff.

A horse at a price could be Escrow Kid, who won an allowance race over the inner track last March for Rodriguez. He was claimed back by Carl Doran, who previously had the gelding. Escrow Kid finished third, placed second via disqualification, in the Dave’s Friend Stakes at Laurel at 43-1 last month.

“I couldn’t believe how sound he was when I got him back,” Doran said. “He had been with some trainers that are known for being very aggressive. His last race was one of his best races. He got wiped out at the start, but he kept trying.”

Doran said his one reservation is that the horse typically is not a great shipper, and he will be shipping him to New York the morning of the race.

Frazil, second to Moments Notiz last out, should appreciate the return to the inner track, where he has a 4-3-1 record from 12 starts.

Steve S 11 months ago
In regard to the inner dirt track.... The handicapping is rather easy going short. In sprint races, the key to winning is finding the horse with the best "turn time" ie the horse that runs from the 1/2 mile marker to the stretch marker. Just take the 1/2 time and the 5/8 time and either add/subtract the appropriate lengths made up or lost. One of the three best turn times will win 90% of the races. Been doing it for years........ MONEY IN THE BANK! The only exception to this rule is when you have a "lone speed" type, as they seem to win at twice the rate compared to the regular main track.
Steve S 11 months ago
WOW...... Not moderating comments anymore??? Ana seems to have a problem with racism
Walter 11 months ago
Just because a comment is not what you want to read, it should be deleted? That is not free speech, a right we should all value. We don't have to like what was written below, but we shouldn't ask for censorship of it.
Thomas Cook 11 months ago
Maybe she sees the truth.
Ana 11 months ago
PeI know thomas cook I wonder where all the good all american clean cut help (white people)have gone do they not wanna work anymore or is it that they just don't drink alcohol like the illegals you referred to earlier I don't know why nyra doesn't appoint someone like you the head of their operations you would definetly clean house and save racing in nyra racetracks and more importantly the whole country ....James cook for president people c'mon let's do this together white america...
Sylvia Carr 11 months ago
anybodys favorite track should be the one they cash tickets on
riconap 11 months ago
The racing will be as good if not better than most other tracks; except Gulfstream and Santa Anita - when they open. The only thing I'll miss are the turf races but the quality of the jockey colony and the nice purses will promote good competitive racing. Remember; horses love cold weather - even if most of us don't.
Patricia Doyle 11 months ago
Horses prefer cold to heat, yes, that is true, perhaps standardbreds prefer the cold a bit more than thoroughbreds. I hope that this meet will be a good one on the inner track. I will miss Ramon however. I guess Joel Rosario has gone back to California for the winter also. Hopefully, Jamie Rodriquez and Simon Husbands will come to the big A now that Finger Lakes closed for the season. They closed just in time, a foot or more snow predicted for that region this weekend. BTW do you know what they mean when they say the inner track is "winterized?" I know it is not synthetic. Maybe Eswan Flores will head to the big A from Parx. He is an up and coming rider and is excellent with sprints too. Always quick out of the gate. Hope the big A is a success this Winter for all of us.
Thomas Cook 11 months ago
They use calcium chloride and salt mixture to winterize the surface so it doesnt freeze and develope clumps of frozen dirt...etc...
Jay Schmitt 11 months ago
Thanks Thomas Cook. I was wondering what "winterized" meant. riconap, as far as jockey colonies go, I'd have to say the Fair Grounds has the best group. Napravnik, Flores, Bridgmohan, Lanerie to name just a few. Some will head to Oaklawn next month when they open.
Richard 11 months ago
You can argue that Cornelio, the Ortiz brothers, Junior Alvarado and the two good apprentices more than match the colony @ Fair Grounds or most other tracks.
Patricia Doyle 11 months ago
Thank you, Wouldn't a cushion track, like that of Hollywood Park be better for a NY winter?
Richard 11 months ago
Cushion tracks can drastically be effected by cold/warm weather changes as the material tightens up with dry cold weather and loosens with warm weather.
chad mc rory 11 months ago
Sure was good for feet and heels...
Walter 11 months ago
Doesn't the calcium chloride & salt mixture burn the horses feet? It would likely.
jwh1006 11 months ago
The inner dirt my favorite racetrack! I will make enough here to cover my bad habit until Breeders Cup 2014. Got to love it. Jwh
tim 11 months ago
Looks like we may get an inch of snow on Saturday. May as well cancel Aqu now. Announce it before the people buy the advanced edition of the DRF on Friday for Saturday., Any excuse to cancel and they will.
Thomas Cook 11 months ago
I am waiting for somebody to have the gumption to write an article about the decline of good quality LEGAL AMERICAN CITIZEN HELP at our tracks. All I see as I peruse the backside every morning on my way to the barn is drunkin illegals beating up horses for no reason. Who cannot run a bandage to save their lives. Dont clean feed and water tubs. And forget about knowing how to properly groom or address leg issues. Everyone want to jump on our breed getting weaker. Medicine reforms. Handicappi.g angles. How bout the top trainers being forced to hire subpar help. Including their assistants. I have been in racing from the age of ten. My grandad trained. I have my license. A degree in equine science. And a true passion for horses and racing. WAKE UP HORSEMAN BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! Now when horses break down on the inner...lets all blame the track!
Horse Cents 11 months ago
Thomas, sounds like you've seen more and more lately and can hardly take it anymore. Don't blame you. This might sound worse than I mean it to be, but here's a little story. I was in the barn one day checking on my horses and was in the trainers office at the time he was giving detailed instructions to a new groom. Do this, do that to this horse and that horse, and it was quite a verbal list. The groom just kept nodding yes. As the groom left, I said to the trainer, you do realize he didn't understand a word you said. Trainer says, you think? I said I know he didn't, and you better not have sent him into any of my stalls, and with that the trainer takes off down the shed row after the groom. Now, there is nothing wrong with not having a full understanding of english or if english is not your first language, but it is a problem when the trainer doesn't realize his help doesn't understand a word of english. And to show how easily this can happen, I know you would know this trainer.
Patricia Doyle 11 months ago
first of all, we can't say ALL undocumented immigrants when we talk about poor horsemanship. I have seen plenty of born in the US of A people exhibiting very poor horsemanship. Maybe someone who is bilingual in the backstretch could help some of the immigrants who are having a tuff time with English. I have long held the belief that a grooms' license should require a very basic test on care of a horse. It would be ideal, but will never happen, for tracks to offer basic horse care classes for grooms of all ethnicity and backstretch people. They should make (at the very least) a seminar a requirement for the grooms' license. I would prefer to see some classes, maybe a month to 6 months.
Horse Cents 11 months ago
First of all, I never said "ALL" in any context whatsoever. I was simply telling a true story in regards to Thomas's frustration on this subject and how a trainer may not even be aware of the language barrier and how it could affect the care of a horse. Which also has nothing to do with if a groom may or may not be a good horseman, just that mixing up instructions would be a problem.
Thomas Cook 11 months ago
I am one of few bilingual American born trainers or assistant. I know I sound prejudice. But fact is fact. They have as a majority on the track ruined it for good help. And if you walk into a barn that has a hispanic assistant...you wont find them hiring or helping Americans. And the trainers are at their mercy. As are the horses. I see it every day. Horse Cents is right. And most elite owners dont have a clue because they never set foot in the barns.
Thomas Cook 11 months ago
i am disgusted at what I see. I talked to my old boss..who has retired, seen Mr Jerkens shaking his head daily, not with him tho... Pletchers help alcohol or poultice..period, Another Lukas pupil...all hispanic help..70% have no clue!! Great trainers turning red faced at lack of horsemanship in barns. Why? The purses are increasing...hire quality help for God Sake! I see cracked heels cause guys dont clean or DRY pasterns, scurf or rot on brow band hair lines under n behind forelock n ears... Bandage bows. No cold water bandages being used. Grooms pissing in stalls. Not airing stalls out! It is sad how good help gets shunned. A good groom I know is walkin hots rather than have his stuff stolen for actually doing his or her job. I am beginning to not want to be an assistant. Just train a few with a couple good crew members! SIGH
chad mc rory 11 months ago
Took your comment in and went back and read it again. You can't blame the piss poor help for everything. Some slimeball did the hiring and signs pay checks every week. Thought you were in with the good guys Thomas... Fair Hill and Payson are not in the low rent district. Wanna save your sanity? Move over to the jumpers. How some of these "trainers" find clients, I just don't know.
Thomas Cook 11 months ago
I am with horseman. But some days looking around is a bad idea
Anonymous 11 months ago
What no DRF+? I am done with the $7 PPs and the $4.50 for formulator. Those should be given to the horse player for a nominal fee. Like 1.50 for formulator. PPs should be $2.00.
Jd Staton 11 months ago
yea no plus crap here lol i guess they feel this is a stupid article no body cares about
michael 11 months ago
no. each time they can tout a racetrack, they can sell more forms to the public.
Patricia Doyle 11 months ago
We must care about this article as we are all commenting on it.
. 11 months ago
winter racing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Thank God for Tampa and GP