01/26/2013 2:10PM

Parx: Coach A.J., Seventeenohsix still trying to find their level

Tom Keyser
Coach A. J. wired the field in his last start going a mile on dirt.

Early in their racing careers as 2-year-olds, Coach A.J. and Seventeenohsix displayed enough potential that their connections gave them multiple shots in stakes.

Coach A.J., claimed out of a maiden win at Saratoga for $50,000, was tried sprinting on dirt in the Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth Park and then going 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in the $115,000 Laurel Futurity.

Seventeenohsix made his career debut in the 7 1/2-furlong Nick Shuk Memorial on Delaware Park’s turf course, then attempted to go long on dirt in the Dover and sprinted on the main track in the Chris Elser Memorial at Parx.

Unable to succeed in the stakes ranks, Coach A.J. and Seventeenohsix look to regroup when they each launch their 3-year-old campaign trying to clear their first allowance condition in Monday’s $47,000 feature at Parx. The one-mile race drew a field of eight 3-year-olds.

Coach A.J., a $70,000 purchase as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale, has raced for three different trainers in his six-start career. He began with Todd Pletcher, but went to Patricia Farro when claimed out of his third start last August. He was bumped around at the start of the Sapling and raced evenly in midpack of the Laurel Futurity.

In his first start for Linda Rice, Coach A.J. wired six rivals going a mile over Aqueduct’s inner track on Dec. 13, so perhaps he has found his niche racing around two turns on dirt.

Seventeenohsix’s three best races in six starts have also come when he has been asked to go two turns on the main track. He looked like a contender in the mile-and-70-yard Dover for trainer John Servis after winning an off-the-turf maiden race by three lengths at Delaware in mid-September. But after racing in contention through the first half-mile, he backed up and beat only one horse. He ran well in his first try against first-level allowance runners going a mile at Parx, but regressed when shortened to 6 1/2 furlongs for a stakes restricted to horses who spent time residing in South Carolina.

Monday’s field also includes a pair of debut maiden winners, Shaler and Nimble Nehemiah. Shaler, based in New York with Pletcher, rallied from last of seven to draw clear going a mile and 70 yards at Parx on Dec. 15.

Nimble Nehemiah, trained by Lupe Preciado, stretches out after beating $40,000 maiden claimers going 5 1/2 furlongs on Christmas Eve.