10/30/2013 11:07AM

Aqueduct: Wet track likely for opening day


After nearly two months without rain, wet weather is in the forecast for Friday in New York just in time for the opening of Aqueduct.

An eight-race card is being offered Friday along with the simulcast of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup from Santa Anita. First post at Aqueduct on Friday – and again Saturday – is 12:25 p.m. Eastern before it returns to its usual time of 12:20 beginning Sunday.

There figures to be 23 cards of racing on the main track through Dec. 1. It is expected that racing will move to the winterized inner track on Dec. 4.

Thanks to the influx of revenue from the adjacent Resorts World casino, stakes purses have been boosted 40 percent through Dec. 31 from the schedule that was released earlier this year. There will be 21 traditional stakes worth $4.6 million, topped by the $500,000 Cigar Mile, the lone Grade 1 of the meet, on Nov. 30. The New York Racing Association has added some purse incentives to the Cigar that could further boost the purse. A Grade 1 winner will be running for the winner’s share of $750,000, while a Breeders’ Cup race winner would be running for the winner’s share of $1 million.

The Cigar Mile, which is expected to attract Kentucky Derby winner Orb, tops a Nov. 30 card that also includes the Remsen and Demoiselle – Grade 2 events worth $400,000 – for 2-year-old males and 2-year-old females, respectively. The Grade 3, $400,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies also is on the card.

The graded stakes action begins this weekend with the Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery for 3-year-olds on Saturday and the Grade 2 Nashua for 2-year-old males and Grade 3, $250,000 Tempted for 2-year-old fillies on Sunday.

A host of new jockeys plan to start riding full time in New York this fall and winter, including C.C. Lopez, who returns to New York after riding at Indiana Downs; Abel Castellano, the brother of New York’s leading jockey Javier Castellano; and Emmanuel Esquivel, the apprentice who won the Arlington riding title but went 3 for 35 the last two weeks of the Belmont fall meet.

Friday’s opening-day card came up rather light, with a first-level allowance sprint the nominal feature. Crackerjack Jones, coming off a solid second-level New York-bred allowance win, takes on open company for the first time. Crackerjack Jones showed good speed winning a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race, earning a career-best 91 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He has always trained like the horse he showed to be last time,” trainer Mike Hushion said. “The last race didn’t surprise me. . . . I’m just hoping that horse shows up again. He had a 59 [second] work, which was supposed to be a 1:02, and that’s what horses do when they’re doing good.”

Crackerjack Jones is 1 for 1 on a wet track. He will be ridden by apprentice Manuel Franco, who won 15 races at the Belmont fall meet.

Among Crackerjack Jones’s chief rivals in the seven-horse field are Dawly, Point Taken, and Sokitumi Samurai.