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Snake Mountain has throat surgery
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Snake Mountain, who would have been one of the favorites in Saturday's Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap, was forced to miss the race after undergoing throat surgery on Wednesday to repair an entrapped epiglottis.
According to Steve Moyer, the assistant to trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Snake Mountain was found to have entrapped following a Tuesday workout over Belmont Park's training track. Snake Mountain was shipped on Wednesday to the New Jersey Equine Clinic, where Dr. Patty Hogan performed laser surgery on Snake Mountain's throat. The horse was back in his Belmont Park stall later that day.
Moyer said Snake Mountain, who won the Aqueduct Handicap in 2003, would need 10 days of inactivity before returning to training. Moyer said he hopes Snake Mountain could return to the races next month or in the $75,000 Stymie Handicap on March 5.
"It's just a little blip on the screen," Moyer said. "I was actually looking forward to running him in that race. He was training super."
Lord Langfuhr, who has won his last three starts, including the Alex Robb Handicap, will represent the Jerkens barn in the $100,000 Aqueduct. Lord Langfuhr figures to come from way out of it on the speed-favoring inner track.
"His last race, that was a hell of a kick," Moyer said of Lord Langfuhr's win in the Robb. "That was impressive and exciting to watch. We're pleased with him; he's kindly improving from start to start to start, and he deserves a shot in there. He overcame the bias last time."
Jorge Chavez, who was two wins shy of 4,000 through Thursday, is scheduled to come up from south Florida to ride.
Country Be Gold gives it another shot
With $733,244 in the bank, Country Be Gold is the top money-earner of the eight horses entered in the Aqueduct. It is more a testament to perseverance, soundness, and good management than to any marquee victory he has had.
Country Be Gold, 8, has a record of 10-6-9 from 53 starts. He still is in search of his first graded-stakes triumph; he is 0 for 21 in such events, 3 for 32 overall in stakes. However, he has run well in some of this circuit's biggest events, running second behind Seeking Daylight in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap in 2002 and third behind Aptitude in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2001.
"He's just a tough, resilient horse," said Steve Kappes, who has trained Country Be Gold for the majority of his career. "When I had him we ran him in the [Jockey Club] Gold Cup, the Brooklyn, and he ran very well. He gave a good account of himself, but he was just a little bit slower than those good horses."
Kappes purchased Country Be Gold for $150,000 out of a dispersal sale held by the horse's previous owner. Kappes purchased him for owners Barry Seinfeld and Elizabeth Dodson. Country Be Gold won his first two starts for his new connections in the winter of 2000 before running fourth in the Aqueduct Handicap in 2001.
Country Be Gold has spent the last two summers running at Delaware Park for trainer Reynaldo Nobles. Seinfeld and Dodson felt that the summer stakes would be easier at Delaware than in New York. All three of Country Be Gold's stakes wins have come at Delaware.
Since returning to New York this winter, he has finished fourth in the Stuyvesant, seventh in the Queens County, and fifth in the Gallant Fox.
In the Queens County, "he was 20 lengths out of it," Kappes said. "I told [jockey Alan Garcia] to be eight or 10 lengths behind the speed; you can't be 20 lengths out of it and catch those horses. In the Gallant Fox, he ran good, but it was too far for him."
Kappes, a former assistant to trainer Allen Jerkens, is confident Country Be Gold will run well on Saturday. Kappes has freshened Country Be Gold and has been pleased with his two most recent breezes.
"He's breezed very well," Kappes said. "He's feeling good. He likes the cold weather, I've always known that.
"The horse to beat is [Aggadan]," he said, "but I think we may have a good shot."
Like Country Be Gold, Kappes - who has only four horses - is searching for his first graded-stakes win. He accomplished a personal first last month by running and winning with two horses on the same Aqueduct card.
Saintliness to stay in New York
After consulting with owner Frank Stronach, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said that Saintliness will remain in New York this winter and most likely make her next start in the $75,000 Rare Treat Handicap on Feb. 26.
Saintliness made a successful stakes debut last Saturday, winning the Affectionately Handicap to remain undefeated in five career starts. With Stronach owning Gulfstream and Laurel Park, it seemed logical that Saintliness would be headed to one of those tracks for a graded-stakes appearance. But since Saintliness is 4 for 4 over the inner track and 1 for 1 over Aqueduct's main track, Stronach doesn't see the need to mess with success.
"He said she loves New York, she's undefeated here, the timing is great, why go to Florida?" McLaughlin said. "Being he owns Gulfstream, I was a bit surprised."
McLaughlin said Saintliness would likely make her graded-stakes debut in the Grade 3 Next Move Handicap on March 25.
Roar Emotion, another McLaughlin-trained older mare, worked four furlongs in 48 seconds over the training track Thursday, the fastest of 76 works at the distance. McLaughlin said he has not yet picked out a race for that mare.
Bank Audit to Laboccetta
Owner Robert Amendola has moved seven of the horses he had with trainer Greg Martin to trainers Frank Laboccetta Jr. and Carl Domino. Among that group is the stakes-winning mare Bank Audit, who will officially move to Laboccetta on Monday, Amendola said.
Martin was forced to give up all of his horses after he was indicted on charges of conspiracy and fraud relating to the alleged milkshaking of A One Rocket, who won the first race at Aqueduct on Dec. 18, 2003.
Bank Audit has won her last two starts, including the Interborough Handicap on Jan. 1. She will be pointed to the Correction Handicap on Feb. 5, Amendola said.
* Richard Migliore won two races on Wednesday's card and is now five away from 4,000 career victories.