1/17/19 ~ revised post
Graded stakes racing returns to Aqueduct with the Toboggan
by Matt Shifman
A field of five was drawn for the Toboggan which is the first graded stakes race of the year at Aqueduct. The $100,000 Grade 3 race, which was first run in 1890, will cover a distance of seven-furlongs.
The New York-bred Gold for the King returns to graded stakes company after running into significant traffic problems down the stretch of the last Saturday’s restricted Say Florida Sandy. The Charlie Baker 5-year-old, who earned a Hot List “A” rating, gets a rider change to the meet leading Manny Franco. The gelding appeared to be full of run but was never able to get clear after several attempts and finished third. Gold for the King [ML 7-5] loves Aqueduct where he has a record of 7: 4-1-2 and seven-furlongs is a preferred distance.
Todd Pletcher brings the 4-year-old Bal Harbor [ML 5-1] back to Aqueduct where he has two excellent stakes performances this year including a win in the mile Gio Ponti and a third in the nine-furlong Queens County.
“We thought he ran very well in the Queens County. He seems like a horse that’s versatile over multiple distances. Considering the pace scenario last time, we thought he held on very well,” said Pletcher. “It seems that since his freshening and his gelding, he’s come back and been in good, consistent form.”
The Toboggan will be Bal Harbor’s first start at this sprinting distance.
“It felt like cutting back to seven-eighths would be a good way to get him to fire his best shot,” said Pletcher. “He’s come out of the race well and he looks like he’s in good form coming in to it.”
Trainer Michelle Nevin has Sklyler’s Scramjet [ML 8-5] returning after missing the top spot in the Gravesend by a head.
“He had a huge effort coming off a long layoff last time,” Nevin said. “He had a good effort and just missed, but it was very nice to see. He’s very versatile. He can be around the pace, or stick behind it, so either way, he should be in a good spot.”
Rounding out the field are Colonel Sharp [ML 4-1] who ships up from Laurel with two consecutive victories that includes the recent Dave’s Friend. The son of Colonel John will be a significant pace factor in the race. Solid Wager [ML 8-1] makes the move to Aqueduct after being transferred from the California barn of Peter Miller to that of Chris Englehart.
The Toboggan is slated as Race 5 on Saturday’s 9-race card at Aqueduct with post time scheduled for 2:26 pm ET. Please note that racing has been CANCELLED at the Big A on Monday, January 21, which is the Martin Luther King holiday.