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Nov 05, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            The Aqueduct meeting opens Friday November 5th. The opening of Aqueduct usually means, small crowds, bad weather and lesser quality racing but this year there is a different feel. The slots that were approved almost 10 years ago look like they are finally going to happen.

            Genting was the company chosen to run the slots at Aqueduct and they have big plans for the current plant. They plan on making a world class tourism and entertainment facility that all New Yorkers can be proud of, according to Genting Chairman K. T. Lim. In addition to providing many jobs both on the construction side as well as in the casino when it is up and running this project will provide NYRA money to help bring racing here in New York back to the top. The purses will increase, the money needed for improvement in each of NYRA’s racetracks will be there and the backstretch help will also have improvements to their living conditions. It is a win-win for everyone and the fact that a company like Genting is in charge makes everyone feel safe that things will be ok for New York racing for a long time to come.

            Back to the racing side of things. Starting on Friday November 5th and running 36 days Aqueduct will hold its fall meeting. Post time will be at 12:30 every racing day with the exceptions of Thanksgiving Day when post time is 11:25 and November 26th/27th when post time is noon. Running to the end of the year the Fall meeting still has plenty of Stakes action to look forward too. There is a break from December 20th to December 28th but before then let’s take a look at some of the Stakes that Aqueduct will host.

            The first Saturday of the meeting, November 6th, the Grade II Nashua, the Grade III Tempted and Grade II Red Smith will be run in addition to the Breeders’ Cup Simulcasts. The following Saturday, the Grade III Long Island Handicap will be run as well as the start of the Aqueduct handicapping challenge. The next Saturday, 11/20, the Grade III Discovery a race for three year olds will be run. In this race you will see some late developing three year olds and last year’s winner was HAYNESFIELD, a New York bred who is running in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

            The following week on Thanksgiving Day the traditional Fall Highweight handicap will be run, and with the early post time they will have you home in time for your Turkey Dinner. On the next day, Black Friday, which is the biggest shopping day of the year, Aqueduct will be open and they are hosting the Grade II Top Flight.

            On Saturday November 27th, the biggest day of the meeting, the last Grade I’s in New York for 2010 will be run. The Grade I Gazelle as well as the Grade I Cigar Mile will be run along with two Grade II races. Those Grade II’s, the Demoiselle and Remsen Stakes for two year old fillies and two year olds gives us a look into what three year olds we should be looking for in 2011.

            When going to the windows, some jockeys and trainers to look for at this meeting are as follows. Ramon Dominguez, who is coming off a big meeting at Belmont is always the one to beat. He was finally beaten in New York at Saratoga but he bounced back nicely at Belmont and will be getting the best of the mounts at this Aqueduct meeting but will probably be overbet and doesn’t offer the value. Javier Castellano and Johnny Velazquez are two of New York’s other top jockeys but again should be getting the prime mounts and might not be the best of value at the windows. A jockey to take a look at is Junior Alvarado, a newcomer to New York but he can ride. After spending the Summer in Chicago it looks like he will take a chance here in New York and might be overlooked until the New York fans get to know him.

            On the trainer’s side of things, Todd Pletcher of course is the one to beat even when he sends his first string to Florida. Gary Contessa, always thought of as a winter trainer generally gets overbet and just doesn’t win at a big enough percentage to make it worth your while. Rudy Rodriguez, who has been unstoppable since moving into the training side of things is another who tends to take a lot of the money at the windows. Follow the first week of the meeting and see if any barn is hot and follow that barn especially if it is a low profile barn that offers value. Good luck!

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