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Dry track a distant memory for 'Big Sid'
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - If he can handle dry footing as well as he handled the snow and the mud last time out, Big Sid's Party will be the one to beat in Friday's feature at Aqueduct, a $50,000 fourth-level allowance race.
Big Sid's Party has not run over a dry track since June 29, when he finished fifth in a $75,000 claiming race. That race was at seven furlongs, and Big Sid's Party has been more proficient at longer distances for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.
Big Sid's Party, who will be ridden by Pablo Fragoso, should get a perfect setup in this 1 1/16-mile race. Angelic Aura, Boston Party, New York Hero, and Polish Times all have done their best running on the front end.
On Dec. 17, Boston Park defeated Big Sid's Party by 1 1/4 lengths in the slop. Boston Park ran rapid fractions that day and held off Big Sid's Party, who broke slowly.
After winning that allowance race, Boston Park finished fifth in the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 17. Boston Park is the type of horse who can get brave on the lead, but he couldn't make the front in the Aqueduct.
"We weren't unhappy with his fifth in the Aqueduct," said Peter Hutton, an assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "Normally, if he doesn't get the lead, he throws in the towel. He showed some fight that day, which was encouraging."
New York Hero, who upset the Lane's End Stakes last year, has run well over the inner track. Breaking from post 5 on Friday, he could work out a better trip than last time, when he dueled for the lead and finished third.
Exclusively Wild upsets Nijana
At a Christmas party, George Rosenthal told trainer Dominick Schettino not to sell Exclusively Wild. Rosenthal is the father of Bob Rosenthal, who owns Exclusively Wild with Schettino and Mike Jester.
"He said, 'Dominick, don't sell that horse, she's going to be a good filly,' " Schettino said.
Though he wasn't around to see it, George Rosenthal was right. Exclusively Wild, unraced in two months, rallied up the rail in midstretch and drew clear to a four-length victory in Wednesday's $60,950 Nijana Stakes. Tempting Note got up for second by a neck over Taittinger Rose. Mistda, the 7-5 favorite, was fifth.
George Rosenthal, who also owned horses with Schettino, passed away two weeks ago.
"This is a sentimental victory for Bob and myself, and it's a great feeling when something like that happens," Schettino said.
Exclusively Wild won her maiden first out for a $75,000 claiming price in November. On Dec. 11, she had a rough trip and finished ninth in an entry-level allowance race. Schettino had entered Exclusively Wild in a two-turn allowance race that didn't fill, so he settled for the Nijana.
Under Javier Castellano, Exclusively Wild sat third behind Miss Park Place and Georgetown Gal. An opening on the rail developed in upper stretch and Castellano shot her through. Exclusively Wild covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.28 and returned $52.50 to win.
Schettino said he would point Exclusively Wild to the $75,000 Busher Stakes on Feb. 28.
Rodeo Licious skips Dearly Precious
Rodeo Licious, who hasn't run since winning the Fashion Stakes in June, will remain idle as trainer Bruce Levine was dissatisfied with the filly's most recent workout and will not run her in Saturday's $75,000 Dearly Precious Stakes.
On Sunday, Rodeo Licious worked six furlongs in company in a leisurely 1:18.42 at Belmont Park.
"I don't think she's fit enough to run in a stakes," Levine said. "She didn't come home the way you'd want one to finish."
Levine said he would look for an allowance for Rodeo Licious in the next condition book.
A short field is expected for the Dearly Precious, run at six furlongs. Among My Souvenirs, Baldomera, Bohemian Lady, High Peaks, and Pro Occident are the likely participants.
Biogio's Beauty likely for Rare Treat
Four years ago, trainer Robert Ribaudo and owners Joseph and Alfred Nastasi won the Rare Treat Handicap with Biogio's Rose. Monday, the same connections will most likely attempt to win that race again with Biogio's Beauty.
Though Biogio's Beauty - who is not related to Biogio's Rose - has won her last two starts, Ribaudo will not be as confident as he was four years ago. In fact, Ribaudo is not actually looking forward to running her in the Rare Treat.
"We might have no choice," said Ribaudo, noting that third-level allowance races haven't been filling. "It's not our first choice, but there's more upside than downside to running in the race. If she could be stakes-placed in an open stakes, that could determine whether she would be bred this year or not."
Biogio's Beauty, a New York-bred daughter of Distorted Humor, is 5 for 16 and has won her last two starts, both at the Rare Treat distance of nine furlongs. Both of those wins have come since Ribaudo removed the horse's blinkers, but he doesn't believe that has made a big difference.
"She only had cheaters on anyway," Ribaudo said, referring to a small-cup blinker, "so it wasn't that drastic of a move."
On Wednesday, Biogio's Beauty worked five furlongs in 1:01.46 over Belmont Park's training track. Biogio's Beauty was assigned 112 pounds and will likely face a field that includes Austin's Mom (118 pounds), Message Red (115), Green Jeans (113), Dancen in the Sun (113), Consort Music (112), and U K Trick (111). Virgin Voyage (114) is possible.
Kazoo may stretch out
Kazoo, who went gate to wire to win a six-furlong optional claiming race by three lengths on Sunday, may stretch out for his next start, trainer Mike Hushion said.
The next sprint stakes in New York is the Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan Handicap over the main track on March 13. But Hushion isn't necessarily crazy about that spot.
"I don't think there's a real good place to go next with him," Hushion said. "I'd like to try him in an allowance race at a mile and 70 yards before the inner track closes. That would be interesting if we could try that."
On Sunday, Kazoo ran six furlongs in a solid 1:09.61 and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 106.
* John Kolb is now the agent for apprentice Pedro Cotto Jr. Kolb also represents journeyman Heberto Castillo Jr.