02/15/2011 3:50PM

Icabad Crane tops strong field in Aqueduct's G’Day Mate Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Icabad Crane heads a field of seven older New York-breds in Thursday's G’Day Mate Stakes at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Inherit the Gold awaits the Kings Point on March 12, but Thursday’s $60,000 G’Day Mate overnight stakes still came up tough. Among seven older New York-breds entered are the last two Kings Point winners, Icabad Crane and Wishful Tomcat, and the last two runner-ups, Manteca and Mighty Morris.

Icabad Crane had not won in nearly two years when he prevailed from off the pace in the Kings Point last March. The gelding raced well through the rest of 2010 but did not win again until New Year’s Eve, when he returned to the inner track to take the Alex M. Robb for Graham Motion. The Fair Hill-based trainer, whose only other local starter this winter was Whirlaway winner Toby’s Corner, will try to run his meet record to 3 for 3 as he brings Icabad Crane back from a 48-day freshening.

Rajiv Maragh delivered a perfectly timed ride in the Robb and he has a return call on Icabad Crane, who has never finished out of the money from eight starts on the inner dirt overall.

Wishful Tomcat and Writingonthewall were claimed from their last starts for $35,000 by Repole Stable and given over to respective trainers, Dominic Galluscio and Todd Pletcher.

Both of those 6-year-olds are natural speed horses. Wishful Tomcat, a multiple stakes winner, led at every call to notch his 11th career victory as a prohibitive favorite 13 days ago. Writingonthewall has finished second to Inherit the Gold twice this winter in optional claimers; most recently, the versatile gelding matched his career Beyer Speed Figure top, which had been delivered on the turf course here last April.

Adding more fuel to a potentially hot pace is Writingonthewall’s uncoupled stablemate, Manteca, who led to deep stretch of the Robb last out.

Manteca has won four times at Thursday’s distance of a mile and 70 yards, including an overnight stakes on the inner track two years ago.

Rounding out a competitive field are Spa City Fever and No Mine.

Spa City Fever was another of Inherit the Gold’s victims on Jan. 26, when second best in the Mr. International overnight stakes for Pat Kelly.

No Mine won 7 of 12 starts last year at Finger Lakes and Presque Isle Downs for Mike Ferraro; the Barry K. Schwartz homebred was a fast-closing second in his local debut.