11/25/2010 4:38PM

Endless Circle continues his climb in Fall Highweight Handicap

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Endless Circle rallies in the stretch to win the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thursday at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Endless Circle completed the cycle from low-level claimer to graded stakes winner by rallying strongly in the stretch to win Thursday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct by two lengths over Jack On the Rocks. It was three-quarters of a length back to favored Wildcat Frankie in third.

The race was marred by a spill in upper stretch when Go Go Shoot, who was contesting for the lead at the three-sixteenths pole, suddenly fell, unseating jockey John Velazquez. Neither horse nor rider was seriously injured, though Velazquez, who was taken by ambulance to the track’s First-Aid room, said he was sore in his lower back. Velazquez had some previous neck pain as a result of being unseated coming out of the gate on Rhys in Wednesday’s second race. Velazquez said he would wait until Friday morning to decide whether he would ride that day’s card.

Endless Circle, under Edgar Prado, had to move out two paths in the stretch when the spill occurred, but he continued his momentum, which carried from fifth to first in the Fall Highweight. The win was the eighth from 13 starts this year for Endless Circle, a 6-year-old New York-bred son of Precise End. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez – who won his first graded stakes as a trainer – claimed the horse for $14,000 on behalf of Vincent Scuderi and James Riccio in April.

Since the claim, Endless Circle has won 5 of 7 starts, including three stakes. He entered the Fall Highweight off a sixth-place finish as the favorite in the Hudson Handicap. Rodriguez confirmed that the horse bled in that race.

“The last race we just throw out because he bled pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “Thank God we were able to clear everything up. We worked him a couple of times, we scoped him, he scoped clean, and he looked like he showed up pretty good today.”

Endless Circle, who is now 11 for 25 lifetime, covered six furlongs in 1:09.79 and returned $11.60 as the fourth choice.

◗ Horse-for-course Ruffino ($29.60) struck the front in upper stretch under Mike Luzzi and then held off Icabad Crane to win the $60,000 Tinchen’s Prince Stakes for New York-breds by a nose. It was a neck to Mine Over Matter in third and 4 1/4 lengths to Giant Moon in fourth.

Ruffino, a 7-year-old son of Raffie’s Majesty owned by Tina Marie Bond and trained by James Bond, won for the fifth time in six starts over Aqueducts main track. He is 9 for 20 overall. Ruffino ran a mile in 1:35.98.