Updated on 09/16/2011 9:54AM

Wrangler seeks a winter revival


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Wrangler rose from mid-level claimer to the best sprinter in the Northeast last winter. After tailing off in the spring, Wrangler will try to jump-start his career Thursday when he heads a nine-horse field in the $100,000 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct.

The Grade 3 Gravesend, run at six furlongs, is the final leg of the pick six, which features a carryover of $57,900.

In a seven-month period beginning in July 2001, Wrangler won 6 of 8 starts, starting with a $35,000 claiming race at Saratoga and culminating with a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel Park.

Two of his more impressive efforts came over Aqueduct's inner track, where he won a third-level allowance race and the ungraded Paumonok Handicap, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 110 each time.

Wrangler bled while finishing fourth in last March's Toboggan Handicap and spiraled downward from there with last-place finishes in the Bold Ruler and Longfellow handicaps. He was turned out at owner Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm in Ocala, Fla., in June.

Wrangler returned to trainer Jimmy Jerkens's Belmont barn in late November. Though Wrangler missed a prep due to a training setback, Jerkens doesn't believe fitness is an issue.

"They worked him a lot on the farm and I worked him a couple of times," said Jerkens, who also entered Multiple Choice in the race. "If he doesn't run good it won't be because he's not fit."

Wrangler, a stalker, should have a target in the speedy Maryland-bred gelding Crossing Point. Last month, Crossing Point nearly wired the Fall Highweight Handicap, giving way late to True Direction. He carried 133 pounds that day. Thursday, he will carry 118.

"I think the weight got to him a little bit right in the last couple of strides," trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. said. "If he gets loose like that again, he'll be tough. I honestly don't think anybody can run with him the first part of the race. The last part we'll have to see."

Feliciano also entered Sassy Hound in the Gravesend, but may run him in the $75,000 Christmas Handicap at Mountaineer instead.

Say Florida Sandy, the 1998 and 2000 Gravesend winner, needs to finish first or second to surpass the $2 million mark in earnings. Rounding out the field are Late Carson, runner-up to Wrangler in last year's Paumonok Handicap; Gold I.D., third in the Fall Highweight; and the Allen Iwinski uncoupled entry of Sing Me Back Home and Vino Solo.

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