12/06/2010 4:20PM

Queen's Harbor caps big opening week for Violette

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Queen's Harbor, Alan Garcia up, wins the East View.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Thermometers said it was 35 degrees Monday morning in Queens, but those wandering the backstretch at Aqueduct knew better. With a whipping wind blowing snow flurries around, one couldn’t help think of wanting to be in warmer climes.

While Rick Violette will soon be leaving for south Florida, the trainer was basking in the warmth of four trips to Aqueduct’s winner’s circle in the first week of racing over the inner track. The final one of the four came in Sunday’s $65,000 East View Stakes with Queen’s Harbor, who led every step of the way under Alan Garcia, winning by 4 1/2 lengths at 26-1.

“I didn’t run her just to make the race fill,” Violette said in Aqueduct’s track kitchen. “The post position made [the instructions] a no-brainer. It’s a good start, hope we can keep it up.”

Despite Queen’s Harbor’s long odds on the tote board, Violette had some confidence that the filly would run better than she did when she finished sixth in the Swirlaway Stakes going a one-turn mile over the main track. That day, Queen’s Harbor got used in a speed duel with Saltamontes and finished sixth while Saltamontes was beaten a neck by Miss Valentine. Miss Valentine and Saltamontes finished second and third, respectively, behind Queen’s Harbor on Sunday.

Violette thought that Queen’s Harbor had a chance to get loose on the lead from the rail on Sunday, and he was right. Queen’s Harbor ran a mile and 70 yards in 1:44.11, which was considerably faster than Beau de Beaupre’s time of 1:45.33 winning the Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-bred males two hours later on the card.

Making the win even sweeter for Violette was the fact he is the owner of Queen’s Harbor as well. It was the second straight year that Violette won the East View. Last year he took it with Opus A, who suffered a fractured cannonbone in subsequent training and who, coincidentally, makes her return to the races on Thursday.

Plans for Queen’s Harbor are undetermined at this point. But Violette said he has a few horses heading to Florida who could make one more start in New York before leaving. Juvenile maiden winners Economic Summit and Rescind the Trade could show up in an overnight stakes or allowance race before heading for Florida.

Arson Squad heads Queens County

Arson Squad, a multiple Grade 3 Stakes winner earlier in the year, heads the list of probable starters expected for Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap at 1 3-16 miles.

Arson Squad, trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., returned from 12-week layoff to win the Mighty Forum, an overnight stakes run as a one-turn mile over Belmont’s main track. Earlier this year, he won the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream at 1 3/16 miles.

Arson Squad is the 119-pound highweight for the race. Others expected to run include Seniors Pride (116), Stormy’s Majesty (115), Modern Cowboy (114), More Than a Reason (114), Pedrolino (114) and possibly Royal Clash (114) and King Ghidorah (113).

NYRA enjoys solid November

NYRA enjoyed a solid month business-wise, as total average daily handle on Aqueduct’s races was $7,127,989, up 9.3 percent from last year’s total of $6,523,854, according to statistics release by NYRA.

There were 18 racing days at Aqueduct in November, three less than in 2009. Total average ontrack handle was up 10 percent from $1,103,557 in 2009 to $1,213,773.

December seems to have gotten off to a good start as well. Saturday’s total handle was $9,468,670, up 25 percent from the corresponding Saturday of 2009 when total handle was $7,549,992. On-track handle Saturday was $873,029, up 35-percent from the first Saturday of December in 2009.