01/23/2013 2:25PM

Aqueduct: Zero Yield stays routing off claim by Ness


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Aqueduct’s Friday card is Exhibit A why the New York Racing Association Reorganization Board at its meeting the same day should do more than just consider reducing this track’s winter schedule.

Only 60 horses were entered for the nine races, and there will be at least one scratch from three races due to the same jockey being named on both halves of an entry. Four races have only five betting interests, and only two races have as many as eight betting interests.

The apparent shortage of horses combined with the fact there have been five racing-related fatalities since the inner track opened Dec. 12 are the reasons the NYRA board will discuss Friday the feasibility of reducing Aqueduct’s racing schedule from five days a week to four – and possibly going from nine races a day to eight – for the remainder of the winter meet.

Friday’s feature is a $67,000, first-level optional $25,000 claimer for fillies and mares going a mile and 70 yards. Six were entered, but Randi Persaud named Keibar Coa on both Bird Fu and Sally’s Dream, so one will have to scratch.

The horse to catch and beat appears to be Zero Yield, a daughter of Badge of Silver who trainer Jamie Ness claimed for $25,000 off John Toscano out of a winning performance Dec. 28.

That race was her first start around two turns, and Zero Yield, under Coa, got loose on the lead through modest fractions and won by 5 1/2 lengths over Traffic Sister, who is back in Friday.

Ness said one of the things that attracted him to claim Zero Yield was that he likes the route-to-sprint angle and was figuring on running her back at six furlongs out of that race. But since Zero Yield performed so well, he opted to keep her going long.

“When they try routing for the first time I like turning them right back to a sprint,” Ness said. “But blinkers on, bug boy, she just cruised around there. I wasn’t going to change this time, except we’ll protect her and not offer her for the tag.”

Ness also will not use an apprentice rider, or bug boy, on Zero Yield. He has Pablo Morales to ride, which means Zero Yield will carry 123 pounds – nine more than last time – which results in a 12-pound weight shift between her and Traffic Sister.

“You’re always concerned when you go up nine pounds, especially routing, but Pablo rides most of my horses, and I feel better putting my rider on,” Ness said.

In that Dec. 28 race, Traffic Sister was making her first start on dirt and had a wide trip when second to Zero Yield. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Traffic Sister has the hot-riding Irad Ortiz Jr. up.

Mrs. Calabash goes first off the claim for Dominic Galluscio.

Princess Mara, who is in for the $25,000 claiming price, won both of her starts over the inner track last winter, but comes off a sixth-place finish against tougher last out.