American Turf Magazine
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Dec 03, 2004



            As the year comes to close we see a new beginning on the

 horizon in New York. Aqueduct’s inner track got underway on Thursday, a day

 later than expected because of the cancellation on opening day, due to high

 winds. There will be many of those days if we have a similar winter to what

we had last year. With the winds, snow, rain, thawing out and then freezing

winter racing is no easy task. The meeting will run through March 6th. There

are 65 racing cards scheduled for the meeting with one already cancelled

 because of the winds.

            There will be a few new faces that will be in action on the inner

 track. The winningest trainer and jockey will both be taking part in the

 inner track festivities. Trainer Steve Asmussen, who just recently broke

 the record for most wins by a trainer in a year will have about 30 head

in New York this winter. As the top trainer in the country Asmussen will

 command much attention at the mutuels. It will be interesting to see

 how he does here, what kind of stock he actually sends and how he will

 fare against some of the top winter trainers of the past.

            Richard Dutrow Jr. led all trainers last year with 47 wins and he

 also most recently won the main track meeting. Even though he will have

 horses in some winter havens, such as Florida and Louisiana, he is

always one to reckon with. Others who have enjoyed success over the winter

 at Aqueduct are Gary Contessa, Bruce Levine, Scott Lake and Jennifer

 Pedersen. Pedersen’s stable is white hot right now and she has enough stock to

 put herself in play if things break right.

            Some trainers from out of town that will be shipping in are

Joe Orseno, Mike Petro, and Robert Bailes, all of which have large stables.

            The winningest jockey will also be on the grounds for the winter.

After some insurance issues in Kentucky he made the move to New York about

 a month ago and plans to ride here for the winter. He will obviously have to

obtain some business as there are established New York jockeys but he will

challenge for the title of leading jockey. Others that will be a force this winter are

 Pablo Fragoso (last year’s winner), Shaun Bridgmohan, Stewart Elliott of

SMARTY JONES fame and a solid rider in his own right will also be challenging

 for top honors. Mike Luzzi and Richard Migliore, inner track main stays will both

 ride over the winter. Interestingly enough both are coming off injuries and will

 have to prove themselves again.

            Although the top horses, trainers and jockeys will be in Florida the riding

 and training colonies in New York this winter will be very strong. This should

also make for a very competitive meeting, not only at the track but also at the


            Other changes that you will see when playing the inner track are the

distances of the races. There will not be any six and a half furlong or seven

furlong races. There will be strictly six furlong sprints over the inner track. There

 will be a bevy of two turn races with varying distances. Many 1 and 16th miles

and 1 mile and 70 yard races. Those distances are not run over the main track

 so they are new problems for handicappers to assess.

            When playing the inner track the prevailing thought is that you need

speed to compete. That is good logic at any track but the inner track at

Aqueduct can become very speed favoring. You must look for biases and jump

 on them. Some days you will see that early on the track is playing fair but

when inside speed is good nothing can beat it. Also saving ground on the inner

 track is important. Because of the tighter turns the inside posts and saving

ground throughout are keys to victory.

            As with any new meeting, follow the biases, follow the hot stables

and take advantage of the struggling ones. The new stables with the big names

 may take a lot of money early on so follow their progress before betting with

confidence, because the inner track is a different animal and it is not that easy

to come in here and win regularly. Good Luck!

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