11/19/2009 12:00AM

Aqueduct roundup



Mike Hushion

Just call him Mr. November after he started the month with seven wins from his first seven races. Rereadthefootnotes got things rolling off an 86-day layoff Nov. 4; Sean Avery ran a new Beyer top off a 64-day break Nov. 8; Saratoga Russell won a third-level allowance at Penn National on Nov. 10, impressively enough to put himself under consideration for the Fall Highweight Handicap; and Rodman slam-dunked an allowance field by nearly eight lengths on Veterans Day. All of this led up to an all-Hushion pick three of Freight Forward, Tidal Dance, and Jazzy Jordan on Friday the 13th.

Kokoro, the barn's only loser heading into the second half of the month, was coupled with Jazzy Jordan.

"I wish I could put one in my pocket and keep it when I'm on an 0 for 15 sometime," he said to Barry Schwartz after Jazzy Jordan, a Stonewall Farm homebred, notched her maiden victory.

Mark Hennig

A $17.10 average payoff from five winners put Hennig, 44, comfortably in front in the longshot department, with David Jacobson ($10.10 average) the only other trainer among the top 12 hitting double-digits.

Dirt winners Dattt Echo ($4.50) and Two Moons ($4.70) were chalky, but Loxy Lady ($24), Brad's My Hero ($33.80), and Split Pot ($18.40) all lit up the toteboard after winning on turf.


Turf horses breaking from the rail

It's probably just a statistical oddity, but the 1-hole was 0 for 31 on the grass through the first three weeks of the fall meet.

Horses drawn wide haven't exactly been tearing it up either: posts 10-12 were a combined 2 for 42.

The Pick Six

Where did all the pick six money go? Since the switch from Belmont to Aqueduct, handle on non-carryover weekdays is down more than 40 percent.

Handle on the six non-carryover weekdays at Belmont in October ranged from a low of $40,293 to a high of $56,975 and averaged $51,262.

Handle on the seven non-carryover weekdays at Aqueduct through the first three weeks ranged from $22,929 to $36,398 and averaged $29,920.

Doesn't anyone have $2 and a dream anymore?


After a four-bagger to close out the racing week of Nov. 11-15, Ramon Dominguez had won 347 races in New York this year, the second-highest total ever behind Steve Cauthen's phenomenal 433 as an apprentice in 1977.

Trailing that total by 86 with 24 racing days left, Dominguez would need to average about 3.6 wins per day to get to 433.

That's unlikely, even for Dominguez, but he has a realistic shot at 400: needing 53, he would have to win about 2.2 per day.


Why the New York Racing Association's racing office (and everyone else) loves turf racing: Last week's nine turf races averaged 9.66 starters per race; the dirt races averaged 7.50 runners - and that doesn't include last Saturday's no-go Stuyvesant, which was scrapped when it drew a field of five, only three of which were definite starters.

Before the rains came, the week of Nov. 11-15 began with the temporary rails set out at nine feet on the turf, and speed held on a bit better than it had during the first fortnight: Six of the nine winners either led or were within two lengths of the lead at least one pre-stretch call. Among the sextet were Idol Image ($10.80) and Manchild ($19.20), a pair of Carlos Martin-trained stretchouts. Manchild was only the third pure wire-to-wire winner from 31 turf races at the meet, and the first who was not favored.

On the main track, the prevailing northeast wind (a headwind down the backstretch) was rated strong Nov. 11; stronger Nov. 12; and strongest Nov. 13.

Indeed, the six dirt races on the Nov. 13 card received a bias rating of 237 from "The Plod Boys" over at Racing Flow, making it the most closer-favoring racetrack on the circuit since March 1. The aforementioned Tidal Dance closed from fifth in a field of six to win a mile race that featured wind-influenced fractions of 25.24 and 24.51 (into the wind), 25.23 (on the turn), and 23.90 (with the wind in the stretch). Callmetony ($12.80) and Quiet Mover ($21.20) rallied from eighth position to win their sprints, overcoming respective deficits of four and five lengths - at the eighth pole.


Okay, who's got Discovery Fever?

The 65th running of the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Discovery, the last graded stakes of the local season exclusively for 3-year-olds, is headed by Gone Astray, the 122-pound topweight coming off wins in the Pennsylvania and Ohio derbies.

Since the Beyer Figures were first published in 1991, par for the Discovery has been just over 102, ranging from Now a Victor's low of 96 in 2007 (the only time it was run at a mile) to a high of 111 by Early Warning - who was the first of four Todd Pletcher-trained winners of the race, along with Left Bank (2000), Magna Graduate (2005), and Roman Dynasty (2006).

Next week is the final week of racing before the scene shifts to the inner dirt track for four months.

On Thanksgiving Day, first post will be 11:25 a.m., with the traditional feature being the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap at six furlongs.

First post next Friday and Saturday is noon.

The Friday card will be highlighted by the Grade 2, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile out of the chute.

Next Saturday's card is the season's last hurrah, featuring the Grade 1 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile; the Grade 1 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies; and the Remsen and Demoiselle, a pair of Grade 2 routes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.


I didn't know Bobby Frankel other than from an occasional inquiry regarding one of his contenders in a feature race. But like me, he was a city kid who cut his teeth at Aqueduct, so I always felt a kinship. He was an embodiment of what it was possible to do with $40 in your pocket and some horse sense.

I relished his quotes whenever an intricacy of the game was being discussed, because he had a way of cutting through all the window dressing and getting to the essence of things.

"Ah, none of that means anything," he would say with a dismissive wave, when someone who should know better brought up some by-the-book handicapping angle. "Here's what this horse is about ..."

When it comes to looking for a stand-alone on a big-race day, I - and legions of fans - will miss his sustained excellence most of all.


Buddy's Saint

Trainer: Bruce Levine

Last race: Nov. 7, 4th

Finish: 1st by 12

After being disqualified from a first-place finish in his maiden debut at Belmont, he was first-time Lasix in the Grade 2 Nashua and turned the one-mile stakes into an exhibition, winning off by a dozen lengths and earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure - among the fastest races by a 2-year-old this season. He is being targeted for the 1 1/8-mile Remsen on Nov. 28.

Mambo Fever

Trainer: Anthony Dutrow

Last race: Nov. 7, 7th

Finish: 2nd by 1 1/4

Ned Evans homebred improved 21 Beyer points for a maiden win at Saratoga second time out and then improved another 17 points when brought back from a two-month layoff for a placing in the Grade 3 Tempted, in which she was better than six lengths clear of the third finisher.


Trainer: Dan Peitz

Last race: Oct. 31, 7th

Finish: 1st by 4

Purchased as a weanling for $200,000 by Shadwell Stable, this 2-year-old colt by Smarty Jones lagged in eighth position early, altered course to the outside, and finished powerfully to win his debut going away. He was taken in hand through the final stages and recorded an 86 Beyer for the effort.

Sean Avery

Trainer: Mike Hushion

Last race: Nov. 8, 3rd

Finish: 1st by 2

Returned from a yearlong absence to win maiden sprint in hand at Saratoga, then came back to run a close third in the fastest first-level allowance of the season later at that meet. Freshened up for two months, he got through that condition with a sharp on-the-pace score and earned a new top Beyer of 96.