Saturday’s stakes close out Aqueduct meet
By New York Hot List Staff
Winter has passed and so, too, in a short matter of time, will another year of racing at Aqueduct.
New York racing’s long, 6-month stay in Ozone Park comes to an end Saturday with a nine-race card that marks the final day of racing until April 26 when Belmont Park opens its doors.
The finale features three stakes, including by the $100,000 Woodhaven, a mile-and-a-sixteenth stakes for 3-year-olds that attracted a field of eight, including one main track only entrant.
Forty Under (9-5) is the morning-line favorite as he makes his 3-year-old debut after closing out 2018 with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Prior to that, the August Dawn Farm runner won his first two starts on turf, a maiden race and the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes.
“He’s been training real well in preparation for this race,” trainer Jeremiah Englehart said. “I’m excited to see him run again. It’s great to see him back out there.”
Empire of War (3-1) also makes his 3-year-old debut while returning to turf after finishing fourth on the main track in his final 2018 start. In two starts on turf, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt was undefeated, taking the Awad Stakes and a maiden race.
Clint Maroon (7-2), who is also trained by Pletcher, has conditioning on his side as he’s already raced three times in 2019, all on turf at Gulfstream Park. He won his last two starts, capturing an allowance race and a maiden test.
The rest of the field includes Tybalt (8-1), Mount Travers (Main Track Only), Family Biz (12-1), English Bee (8-1) and Five Star General (8-1).
The card also includes a pair of $200,000 New York Stallion Series stakes for 3-year-olds bred in New York State at 6 ½ furlongs.
The stakes for fillies is topped by Newly Minted (8-5), a decisive maiden winner for trainer Linda Rice, Stonesintheroad (2-1), who was third against open stakes company in the Cicada, and Kid Is Frosty (5-1), who is making her stakes debut after finishing second in an allowance.
In the stakes for males, the headliners are Blindwillie McTell (2-1), Bankit (5-2) and Thorny Tale (9-2).
Blindwillie McTell finished second in his debut then reeled off stakes victories in the New York Stallion Series and then the Rego Park, both for New York State-breds.
Bankit will be making his 10th start and gets some class relief here after competing in a trio of Kentucky Derby preps in his last three starts, the Louisiana Derby, Southwest Stakes and Smarty Jones
Thorny Tale was second behind Blindwillie McTell in the Stallion Series stakes and most recently once again finished behind the victorious Blindwillie McTell while winding up third in the Rego Park.