Updated on 09/15/2011 1:29PM

Jerkens sends Voodoo to easier spot

Email

JAMAICA, N.Y. - Judging by Voodoo's* (click here for lifetime PP's) monster return to the races in his last start, it wouldn't be crazy to run him in Saturday's Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. But it wouldn't be prudent either.

With that in mind, trainer Jimmy Jerkens has elected to run Voodoo back in Thursday's $100,000, Grade 2 Fall Highweight Handicap at six furlongs.

"It'll keep him fresher a little longer," Jerkens said. "He can have a hard race in the Fall Highweight too, but at least it's only six furlongs. If he had a knock-out, drag-out race at a mile, it would have to take more out of him."

Jerkens and owners Susan and John Moore invested a lot of time and patience getting Voodoo back to the races. Voodoo came out of a fifth-place finish in the Wood Memorial with a chip in a knee that had to be surgically removed.

On Sept. 29, off a 5 1/2-month layoff, Voodoo won a second-level allowance race by two lengths. His final time of 1:09.51 was exceptional when compared with other six-furlong times that weekend at Belmont Park. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108.

"He's the kind of horse, being that fresh, he's definitely going to fire," Jerkens said. "It worked out where he didn't get over-trained and he had plenty of spark to him. You can get to the bottom of him real quick."

His fragile nature is another reason Jerkens chose the Fall Highweight over the Cigar. If Voodoo is going to have a winter campaign, he's going to have to bounce back from his races quicker than he has in the past.

"He's a little stronger horse this year than he was last year," Jerkens said. "Still, with a horse of his talent, you'd like to see a little more substance to him. No telling what he could do if he ever got to looking like one of [Bob] Baffert's horses."

Jerkens will also be represented in the Fall Highweight by Bay Head King, another lightly raced 3-year-old. Bay Head King has not been out since a second-place finish in the Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park. Before that, he finished a troubled fourth behind Squirtle Squirt in the Grade 1 King's Bishop.

"He got pinched back at a crucial time down the backside, he had to make a ridiculously wide move around the turn to gain contention, and then he flattened out," Jerkens said of the King's Bishop. "I thought he ran well in the King's Bishop. I was disappointed in his race at Philly. He drew the rail, broke terrible - but it still looked like he was going to come up the inside and win easy. But it got a little tight and he just hesitated in there."

Post positions for the Fall Highweight were to be drawn Thursday. The horses expected to enter, with their weight assignments, were: Yonaguska (131), Governor's Pride (130), In C.C.'s Honor (130), Sassy Hound (130), Silky Sweep (130), Istintaj (129), Grangeville (128), Late Carson (128), Bay Head King (124), Run Kush Run (124), Port Herman (122), and Nunzio (121).

Musical jockeys for Cigar Mile

With Voodoo now pointed to the Fall Highweight, the field for the Cigar Mile stands at eight definites and one possible starter.

Four of the five topweights for the Cigar Mile will have a different rider than the one who was aboard for the horse's most recent start.

Red Bullet, who most recently was ridden by Gary Stevens in the Woodward, will have Jorge Chavez up under 118 pounds. He will carry the same weight as Affirmed Success, the 1999 Cigar Mile winner, who has Edgar Prado replacing Jerry Bailey. Also at 118 is Graeme Hall, who had John Velazquez up for his Stuyvesant Handicap victory, but who will be ridden by Richard Migliore in the Cigar. Velazquez is scheduled to ride Left Bank, the 120-pound highweight.

Trainer Pat Reynolds is still trying to confirm a rider for Peeping Tom (117), the runner-up in the 2000 Cigar Mile. Shaun Bridgmohan, the regular rider of Peeping Tom, has elected to ride Volponi (115), whom he rode to victory in the Pegasus last time out.

Pat Day is expected in from Kentucky to ride Ack Ack Stakes winner Illusioned (116) and Roger Velez will ride Ticket to Freedom (112). Franbullo (115), a multiple group-stakes winner in Chile, may make his U.S. debut in the Cigar Mile.

On Sunday, Graeme Hall, under Migliore, drilled five furlongs in 59.71 seconds over Belmont's training track in company with South African Group 1 winner Kimberly Mine. Both moves equaled the fastest of 21 for the morning.

Left Bank, the potential Cigar Mile favorite, worked five furlongs in 1:00.43 with Airy Hill. On the main track, Affirmed Success went five furlongs in 59.49 seconds, the fastest of 19 works at the distance.

More on pick four fiasco

Upon further investigation, the New York Racing Association has discovered that most of the winning tickets on last Thursday's pick-4 - which paid $1,027 less than the final pick-3 - were purchased through Birmingham Race Course in Alabama. Birmingham serves as the hub for the Caribbean casinos that wager on NYRA's races.

According to Vince Hogan, NYRA's director of mutuels, $99 of the $164 worth of winning tickets were purchased through Birmingham. Another $49 was purchased in Las Vegas. There were no winning pick four tickets sold on track and only $5 worth at New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.

The pick-4 combination of Seeking Greatness ($8.80), Barrage ($35), Nouvelle ($9.70) and Yavapai ($13.80) returned $1,070, a little more than one-fifth of the parlay. The pick-3, which included the last three legs of the pick four, returned $2,097.

Voodoo PP's*

* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.