11/08/2017 12:10PM

Spring to the Sky seeking first win of year

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Debra A. Roma
Spring to the Sky (right) is beaten by Ben's Cat in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint in 2016.

Spring to the Sky has won a race each season since he started out in 2011. But this year the 8-year-old has raced only five times and is yet to reach the winner’s circle.

That could change Friday at Aqueduct when Spring to the Sky goes postward for a $62,500 tag in a second-level optional-claiming turf sprint.

Spring to the Sky has spent his entire career under the care of trainer Bruce Brown, who purchased him for $55,000 on behalf of owner Anthony McCarthy at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton select sale of yearlings in Saratoga. The son of Langfuhr has since won eight of 45 starts and $655,000.

“We started him out a little later this year,” Brown said. “Last year he started good and then kind of tailed off. The plan this year was to push things back a little so he would be good this time of year. Of course, we knew the new Aqueduct turf course would be there.”

The outer turf course, which was installed over the former inner dirt track, gives the Aqueduct racing office the ability to run turf sprints up to six furlongs for the first time.

While Spring to the Sky hasn’t won in 2017, he has twice performed well at the level at which he is entered Friday. In his second start of the year at Saratoga, Spring to the Sky threw his head at the start and broke last before closing with a good run to finish third, beaten a neck.

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In his most recent race on Oct. 14, he showed his usual good early speed and led until deep stretch before being run down by English Minister and beaten three-quarters of a length. One of his chief rivals Friday is End Play, who closed ground to finish third, a nose behind Spring to the Sky.

Spring to the Sky’s early speed may give him the advantage he needs to extend his seasonal win streak.

“This level seems to be where he is at now,” Brown said. “Logically, he’s lost a step or two. He’s a cool horse. He’s kind of the barn pet. We’ve had him so long he’s like a member of the family.”

The Aqueduct card also contains a first-level optional-claiming race for 2-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs. Strategic Dreams, one of two entrants in the five-horse field for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, figures to be a heavy favorite.

Strategic Dreams set the pace in the Grade 1 Frizette before tiring to finish fifth. The Frizette form was flattered last week when the race’s runner-up, Caledonia Road, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Separationofpowers, the Frizette winner, finished fourth.

Brown has entered longshot Right On, whom he trains for his father-in-law Bill Terrill, son of the late Red Terrill, a longtime New York horseman. Red Terrill is best known for training Turnback the Alarm, a five-time Grade 1 winner in New York in the early 1990s.

Bill Terrill purchased Right On for $25,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales spring auction of 2-year-olds in training. She made her first three starts at Gulfstream Park before being sent to Brown, for whom she promptly won a $50,000 maiden claimer at Belmont Park.

“She didn’t handle the heat in Florida that well and seems to be coming around,” Brown said.