04/05/2009 11:00PM

Heir to the Stone stretches vs. elders


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - He is taking on older horses for the first time and stretching out a quarter-mile farther than he's ever run, but Heir to the Stone still looms the horse to beat in Wednesday's featured second-level allowance race for New York-breds at Aqueduct.

Heir to the Stone is the only 3-year-old among the nine colts and geldings entered in this one-mile race worth $55,000. The purse is $10,000 more than usual because this race was originally carded for Saturday, Wood Memorial Day, when all overnight races had their purses increased by $10,000. The racing office elected not to use the race Saturday but decided to maintain its higher purse when they brought it back. The same situation exists for Wednesday's fourth race.

Heir to the Stone, a son of Birdstone, has yet to run past six furlongs. He won his debut at 5 1/2 furlongs last July by 5 3/4 lengths before being sidelined due to injury. After getting beat a head in his return Dec. 14, he came back with a front-running score in a first-level allowance March 7, beating next-out winner Legal Consent by 1 1/4 lengths.

"He was very game," trainer Rick Violette said. "He scared me all the way down the lane. In upper stretch, I thought that they might all go by him, but he does what he has to do; it got him beat in December."

Violette is confident a one-turn mile should be within Heir to the Stone's capability.

"I think he's bred to handle it fine; pedigree-wise, certainly Birdstone could get it," Violette said. "I would have rather have had another sprint race under his belt, but if he really relishes [the mile], it opens up other doors."

Eibar Coa rides Heir to the Stone from post 8.

Five of the nine horses entered in this spot are in for the optional claiming tag of $25,000. All five horses come out of a similar spot on March 14, a race won in front-running fashion by Freddy the Cap. Trained by Oscar Barrera Jr., Freddy the Cap is making his ninth start of the year and fourth in five weeks.

Western Deed was forced to steady while finishing third in that March 14 race. He gets a rider switch to Ramon Dominguez. Western Deed has two seconds and a third from three starts over the main track.