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Longley going straight to Grade 3 attempt
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Subscribing to the theory that a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park is akin to running in a stakes race anyplace else, trainer Graham Motion opted to forgo such an allowance race at Gulfstream last Saturday to run his 3-year-old Longley in this Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.
With only two starts to his credit, Longley will be the least-experienced runner in the expected 10-horse field. But only two members of the field - Summer Doldrums and Wollaston Bay - are stakes winners, and neither has won a graded event.
"We're looking to find out what we got," Motion said Wednesday from south Florida. "I said to [owner Don Adam] we need to find out now. We can always go back and run in an a-other-than. It would be a shame to miss out on an opportunity to run in a graded stakes and find out where we are with the horse."
Longley, a son of Seeking the Gold, debuted last summer at Saratoga, winning a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 4 1/2 lengths. That race was originally scheduled for the turf, but was moved to the main track.
"I was trying to look to get him started in a sensible spot," Motion said. "You know what those maidens can be like [at Saratoga]. Sometimes those grass races can be not as tough. When it came off I was quite happy, because he had trained well on the dirt. It was really the best-case scenario."
Longley came out of that race with "touchy shins," said Motion, and was turned out on Adam's farm. Longley returned in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream on Feb. 3, where he dueled between horses and finished third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Spin Master.
"He was very sharp, which I wasn't expecting," Motion said. "He came away from there running and caught the worst of it being between those two horses. You know me, I don't crank them up to be at their best first time back."
Eibar Coa will ride Longley in the Gotham.
As of Wednesday, the Gotham field was scheduled to include: Summer Doldrums, Cowtown Cat, How Sweet He Is, Longley, Mint Slewlep, Believeinmenow, Sir Whimsey, Wafi City and Wollaston Bay. Helios was possible.
Ban lifted, but no Crafty Bear
Though the New York Racing Association lifted its ban on Maryland shippers effective with Saturday's races, the Laurel Park-based Crafty Bear will not make the trip for the Gotham, according to trainer Michael Trombetta.
Trombetta said he didn't like the way Crafty Bear was moving as he came off the track Wednesday morning and has decided to skip this race.
"When he came back he looked like he was a bit uncomfortable, so I'm going to pass," said Trombetta, who saddled Sweetnorthernsaint to a third-place finish in last year's Gotham. "It's unfortunate, because I really like this horse. I try to avoid running any of them if they're not right."
Mint Slewlep, who is based at Maryland's Bowie Racecourse, is expected to ship in for trainer Robbie Bailes. Mint Slewlep hasn't raced since taking a one-mile maiden special weight race on Oct. 21 at Laurel Park.
Longley will come from Maryland as well, as he was shipped to Motion's stable at the Fair Hill training center from south Florida on Tuesday.
On Feb. 24, NYRA put a ban on shippers from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Delaware because of a confirmed case of equine herpesvirus at an equine clinic in Virginia. According to Dr. Anthony Verderosa, NYRA's chief examining veterinarian, there is still a ban on Virginia shippers because of a new case of equine herpes discovered on March 2.
Dominguez to ride Attila's Storm
The last time Attila's Storm won a race, Ramon Dominguez was scheduled to ride him. It was Thanksgiving Day 2005 and Dominguez got stuck in traffic and never made it to Aqueduct. Pablo Morales subbed for Dominguez and guided Attila's Storm to a neck victory over Voodoo in the Fall Highweight Handicap.
Dominguez will finally get a chance to ride Attila's Storm on Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan Handicap at six furlongs.
Since the 2005 Fall Highweight, Attila's Storm competed in five consecutive graded stakes, finishing second in the Grade 1 Malibu and third in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap. He has twice been competitive in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Still, Attila's Storm is seeking his first graded win.
Attila's Storm comes out of a second-place finish behind Bishop Court Hill in the Paumonok Handicap, a race in which he had trouble at the break.
"The dirt broke out from underneath him," trainer Richard Schosberg said. "His feet were moving, but his body wasn't."
With Bishop Court Hill readying for the Dubai Golden Shaheen, Attila's Storm will be the 120-pound highweight in the Toboggan. Others expected to run include Cavallo Pazzo (116), Introspect (115), and Wild Jam (114). Possible runners include Kelp (115), Ryan's for Real (115), and Pavo (113).
Golden Dreamer taking on males
The 3-year-old filly Golden Dreamer was entered against males in Friday's $65,000 Appealing Guy, an overnight stakes race for New York-bred 3-year-olds at six furlongs.
Golden Dreamer won 4 of her first 5 starts, including the Ruthless Stakes, before getting used up in a hot and heavy pace duel when fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the Dearly Precious. She gets a rider switch from Jean-Luc Samyn to Norberto Arroyo Jr. and could be the main speed in this field.
Smash 'Em Sammy won the Fabersham Stakes, a race similar to this, on Jan. 12, but was not competitive when he ran last in the Fred "Cappy" Capossela stakes here on Feb. 19.
Bad Boy Rising, winner of a first-level allowance race on Feb. 3, may be the one to beat for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.
Cagey Girl romps by 27 3/4 lengths
It didn't have the feel of Secretariat's Belmont Stakes, but it had the look. Cagey Girl, won Wednesday's nightcap at Aqueduct by a whopping 27 3/4 lengths under Chantal Sutherland. Amazingly, it wasn't the largest final margin between horses in the race.
In a field that was well strung out, the distance between fifth-place finisher Angel Beach and sixth-place finisher Sumannonymoushoss was 45 3/4 lengths.
Cagey Girl returned $5.20 as the favorite.