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Dec 01, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


The weekend of November 25th and 26th was the last weekend on the main track at Aqueduct until late March or early April of 2007. The races will be conducted on Aqueduct’s inner track which was designed to handle the harsh winter weather in the New York area. The inner track has a one mile configuration and the one turn races are limited to six furlongs as opposed to the main track which runs 6 ½ and 7 furlong races at one turn and the mile distance is also one turn on the main track out of the chute. The new distance that you will see on the inner track is one mile and 70 yard races.

            At this time of year many of the top trainers and jockeys leave for warmer climates but it seems that this year there might be a very solid jockey and trainer colony. Top trainers like Todd Pletcher, Richard Dutrow Jr., Rick Violette Jr. and Kiaran McLaughlin will be leaving horses here for the winter, although not their top string they will have a strong presence. Other trainers that plan to have horses here in the winter that normally don’t winter here are Tim Ritvo, John Ward, Tony Wilson, and Paula Bacon. Some Jersey based trainers like Jason Servis, Ben Perkins Jr. and Juan Serey will also have their stock here for the winter.

            If the trainer colony looks like a strong one the jockey colony is even stronger. Eibar Coa, who won last year’s title with a 104 wins, just four more than Ramon Dominguez will be back to defend his title. Dominguez will also be back to give it his best shot to try to overtake Coa. But they will not have this jockey race all to themselves as Hall of Fame riders, Mike Smith and Kent Desormeaux will winter in New York along with Shaun Bridgmohan, Jose Santos, Mike Luzzi, Abel Castellano, Fernando Jara and C. C. Lopez. In addition to these top riders there will be a few apprentice riders that will ply their trade here in the winter and top apprentices usually do well at this meeting. This is easily the best jockey colony we have seen in years and should help when it comes to getting value because the top mounts will be spread among more than just two riders.

            The final weekend of the main track also saw the final Grade I Stakes of the year in New York, the Cigar Mile. On Saturday November 25th Aqueduct hosted three graded stakes, the Demoiselle and the Remsen stakes, two Grade II races both at 1 and 1/8th miles for two year olds, the Demoiselle for fillies and the Remsen for colts and geldings.

            In the Demoiselle, we saw a very interesting prospect in the winner, BOCA GRANDE, who is by A. P. INDY has now won two in a row and that was only her third career start. She easily handled the distance and is a major prospect for the top three year old filly races next year. In the Remsen stakes we may have seen the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby next year. NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ exploded into the stretch and quickly opened up a big lead scoring by a geared down six and a half lengths in a race that was over a second faster than the fillies.

            The next race however was the big race of the day, the Cigar Mile. The undefeated DISCREET CAT who was five for five entering the race exited the race a perfect six for six in a very impressive fashion scoring by an easy 3 and ¼ lengths in a very quick time of 1:32.46. BADGE OF SILVER got up for second over last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint hero SILVER TRAIN. DISCREET CAT is headed back to Dubai to prep for the Dubai World Cup in March and then back to America for a campaign here next Summer as long as everything goes well. Considering DISCREET CAT is the only horse that beat Breeders’ Cup Classic hero INVASOR this makes him a very intriguing horse. Although he will not win the Horse of the Year honors he was without a doubt the most visually impressive horse to race at a high level all year. Can’t wait until next year to see just how good he is.



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