Dec 03, 2004
AMERICAN TURF LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
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!
<< Back To Newsletter