Aqueduct’s long distance Bernardini Stakes draws a field of nine
By New York Hot List Staff
The $100,000 Bernardini Stakes, which will be run on Saturday at Aqueduct, has drawn nine older horses for the mile and five-sixteeths test.
The Jason Servis trained runner Leitone is the 3-1 morning line favorite based on his four victories last year. In his last two starts, Leitone faced the Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston and the formidable NY-bred Mr. Buff. The 6-year-old horse does his best running when he is part of the early pace, but he is likely to have plenty of company on the front end.
With four or five of the horses in the field hoping to carry their speed for the long distance of this race, the late runners are expected to have an advantage.
Backsideofthemoon, who is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, was second last time out in the Jazil behind Mr. Buff. He has a great record at Aqueduct of 16: 4-4-3.
The lightly raced 4-year-old Patagonia has attractive odds of 6-1 and is one of the closers who will get an ideal set-up for his running style. The Jonathan Thomas runner rallied to win a nine-furlong allowance race at the Big A in his most recent start in December.
Trainer Rob Atras, who got his first career stakes victory in the Bernardini last year and is currently winning races at Aqueduct at 31%, has a pair late-runners both with odds of 6-1.
Dynamax Pro is already a winner at a distance of a mile and a quarter. Atras alsoq trains his stablemate Heavy Roller for seven-time leading owner Michael Dubb.
“I’ve always liked Heavy Roller,” Atras said. “Last time, he ran a good race but I think he’s another that would benefit from added distance. He’s got a big stride and high cruising speed and can carry that to a further distance. He’s a little out of his comfort zone going a mile.”
Yet another 6-1 shot who will be making a late bid to get the stakes victory is Adventist who will ship to New York from Parx Racing for trainer Uriah St. Lewis. He has a victory going a mile and a half in the Grade 3 Greenwood at his home track, so the distance of the Bernardini will be no problem for him.
The New York Hot List team provides their Special Saturday Pick 3 along with full card picks and analysis free of charge on this website. Post time for the Saturday card is 1:20 pm ET with the Bernardini scheduled to run as race 8 at 4:50.