Damon Runyon helps close out 2017 at Aqueduct
By Bob Ehalt
Times Square is getting ready for its big night, and at Aqueduct Racetrack this weekend the big ball, apple, horseshoe, take your pick, will come down on the final weekend of 2017 action at the Big A.
The celebration will not rival the one in Manhattan on New Year’s Eve, but fans could pick some extra cash for champagne or noise-makers through three straight days with stakes action.
It starts on Saturday with the $100,000 Damon Runyon, the $100,000 Alex M. Robb on Sunday and Monday’s $150,000 Jerome, which is expected to feature Champagne Stakes winner Firenze Fire.
The Damon Runyon, a mile stakes for 2-year-olds bred in New York, attracted a field of nine in which settling on a favorite could be a difficult task.
Five horses are grouped between 3-1 and 6-1 with morning-line honors going to Empire Line (3-1). A son of, quite fittingly, Morning Line trained by George Weaver, Empire Line was victorious in his career debut for West Point Thoroughbreds and RAP Racing and posted a two-length victory.
The second choice, at 7-2, is Audible, who is trained by Todd Pletcher. He is coming off a decisive, 9 ¾-length victory in an allowance race at Aqueduct, though that race was originally scheduled for the Big A’s turf course.
Sea Foam, at 4-1, is coming off a state-bred stakes win in the Notebook, where he pressed the pace at six furlongs and won by a length. After drawing the rail in the mile-long Runyon, Sea Foam shapes up as the probable pacesetter.
Battle Station was pegged at 5-1 and has some interesting credentials. A winner of the Bongard by 9 ¼ lengths in his first dirt race, he then finished eighth in the Sleepy Hollow before finishing second in an allowance race at Churchill Downs.
Jaye Jaye (6-1) is 2-for-2 in his career, winning on the turf in his debut and then prevailing on the main track in a race washed off the turf course.
The rest of the field includes Seven Lilies (30-1), Honor Up (12-1), Evaluator (10-1) and Analyze the Odds (20-1).
And with that, Happy New Year’s, folks.