02/22/2013 2:43PM

Aqueduct: Three trainers each have two entrants but Hushion may only need In Harm's Way

Email

Back-to-back optional claiming sprints for New York-breds highlight Sunday’s program, which completes a stakes-less weekend of racing at Aqueduct.

In race 5 for 3-year-olds, Gary Contessa, Bruce Levine, and Rudy Rodriguez each send out two runners in a competitive field of eight.

Contessa saddles Laila’s Jazz, who won his first two starts last year and was second by a nose in a New York Stallion Series Stakes at the fall meet, and Glowing Ember, a punctual favorite beating maidens at 3-5 three weeks ago.

Levine’s last-out maiden winners, Stonely the Lonely and Rocket Hero, book-end the field from the rail and the outside post, with the Ortiz brothers Irad Jr. and Jose aboard.

Rodriguez sends out a pair of last-out winners in Lucci the Lion and Pleasure Principle, who are both in for the optional $75,000 claiming price.

The one to catch and beat is In Harm’s Way, who makes his third start of the winter after leading to the stretch call twice at the turn of the year, each time over a sloppy track.

As a second-time starter last summer, In Harm’s Way graduated from the maiden ranks impressively, so much so that trainer Mike Hushion entered the Hook and Ladder colt right back in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special. He finished third, beaten less than a length for the runner-up spot.

“That’s why we’re in this game, to have a good horse and to try to have big horses,” Hushion said.

Leilani’s Ticket, coming off two second-place finishes earlier this month for David Jacobson, rounds out the lineup.

In race 6 for older horses, Jimmy Jerkens has the one to beat in Odea.

Odea breaks from the outside in the field of eight under Jose Ortiz, and will be first-time Lasix after running a solid second in his first try in the condition.

Odea would relish any moisture in the track, judging from his Dec. 30 debut win that earned a layover Beyer Figure of 88.

Estimator, the lone entrant eligible for the $14,000 claiming price, tops the field of six with 10 wins and earnings approaching $250,000. This will be his second start for “Fireman Joe” Aquilino, who has had a productive winter meet with six wins.

The field is completed by Coalition, Crea’s Law, Fight for V L T’s, Greeley’s Law, Thor’s Mjolnor, and Wishingonastar.

Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Is the stakeless NYRA weekend a result of a shortage of stakes horses, or that non-stake allowance races are only slightly smaller in purses? Maybe they should allocate more of the slot money to the stakes than the allowance races, which still usually have short fields.