1/20/17 By Shawn Rychling
Don’t look now, but we have hit mid- (dare I say late-) January and NYRA is plugging away with the inner track meet at Aqueduct.
After a weekend lost to a snowstorm and sharp cold front, the old track in Ozone Park recovered last week with a strong 5-day schedule which included an extra day of racing for the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday. Due to the cancellations — which have reached three since the inner track opened in early December — bettors were treated to an excellent lineup last weekend which featured an average of 9 betting interests per race across the three days. The high number of betting options resulted in a double carryover in the Pick 6 which went unhit on Sunday and Monday. Pick 6 players went into Friday with a little more than $84,000 already in the pool. Good luck if you are playing the Pick 6 and let’s hope it carried over again into Saturday’s card where the Hot List has several of the races in the sequence fleshed out.
Let’s take a look back at last weekend as an old friend took a stakes race. Green Gratto broke from the rail in the Grade-III Toboggan at 6 furlongs and took a short lead setting fractions of 22.60; 45.64; and 57.67. He then gamely held on turning back the cavalry charge to win by a neck in 1:10.74.
Green Gratto is a horse we have loved forever thanks to his blazing early speed and ability to hang on. His career seemed to reach its peak about 14 months ago – on Thanksgiving Day 2015 – when he electrified a holiday crowd at Aqueduct taking the Gr. III Fall Highweight by a head. He was classic Green Gratto that day going to the front in fractions of 22.29, 44.71 and a remarkable 56.87 running that 5th furlong in an unheard of 12.16! He dug deep under jockey Kendrick Carmouche to win by a head. He posted a 101 speed figure that day, but improved in his next start with a 107 in winning the Gravesend.
Since then though, Green Gratto has been somewhat mediocre with one win in 13 starts before the Toboggan, and that came in a minor stakes at Delaware Park. But he was second in the Gravesend and drilled two bullet works leading into the Toboggan and he turned the tables on Stallwalkin’ Dude in winning that race. That victory may signal a return to top form for Green Gratto which would be a nice thing for modest connections of owner/trainer Grant Gaston who had only 36 starters in 2016. We’ll look for Green Gratto next in the Grade III Tom Fool at 6 furlongs on March 11.
Don’t forget, the Hot List has full cards at the Big A from Friday through Sunday and you can get all of our analysis on the Interbets site right here.
Just 182 days until Saratoga opens!