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Aqueduct: Smash stretches out to a mile; $34,000 pick-six carryover Wednesday
By Dave Litfin
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The Big Apple’s final harbingers of spring arrive this week when the Mets and Yankees begin their seasons and turf racing returns to Aqueduct on Wednesday.
The three scheduled grass races, all at 1 1/16 miles and carded as the fifth, seventh, and ninth races, are part of a pick six with a carryover of $34,136 courtesy of upset victories by Christiesborntorun ($88.50) and Trixie Star ($154) on Saturday.
Also in the pick six is the featured eighth race, a one-mile optional claimer with third-level allowance conditions that attracted five evenly matched older males. Heading the lineup is Smash, a close fifth in last month’s Tom Fool Handicap in his first race on the circuit for trainer Bob Baffert.
Other than a runner-up finish in his second career start behind Coil – a Grade 1 winner going short and long – Smash’s only defeats have come in graded stakes. The Tom Fool was just the second start since the 2011 Malibu for Smash, a lightly raced 5-year-old horse who recorded triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures on three occasions over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track. He was beaten just more than two lengths in the Tom Fool after a five-wide trip.
“He gets a little jarred up,” Baffert said. “He’s a very small horse.”
Smash breaks from the outside post as he stretches out beyond seven furlongs for the first time and will take on four salty local opponents in Fiddlers Afleet, Percussion, Schoolyard Dreams, and Summer Sunset.
The Bruce Levine-trained Summer Sunset posted a front-running score over Percussion in mid-winter. The latter was subsequently purchased by Gary Barber and turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher, and the gelding returned quick dividends on Gotham Day, when he garnered his second-level allowance condition in wire-to-wire fashion at the expense of new stablemate Mordi’s Miracle, who was second in the Grade 3 Excelsior three weeks later.
Fiddlers Afleet and Schoolyard Dreams are in for the optional $75,000 claiming price.
Fiddlers Afleet, a multiple stakes winner in the New York-bred ranks, makes his second start of the year after pressing the early pace in the General George Handicap and fading to fifth.
Schoolyard Dreams was scratched from a six-furlong race Saturday to await Wednesday’s more suitable distance, where he has posted two of his three wins, along with a third in the 2011 Westchester.
- 1.Posted 12/02/2013 02:02PM
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