Knowing all there is to know about race horses is not the only requirement for a Thoroughbred trainer.
Knowing which race to enter is a skill reserved for top tier conditioners.
David Jacobson, who is always on or near the top of the New York Racing Assn. trainer's list, took a look at the post position draw for the sixth running of the $200,000 Fabulous Strike at Penn National carded for Wednesday, Nov. 22.
His stable star, Stallwalkin' Dude, drew the rail in the 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up. That's a post position the multimillionaire is known not to relish because he tends to lose ground early in the race when he breaks against the rail.
Jacobson's 'other horse,' Chief Lion, drew post number 6 in the Fabulous Strike
Being the always prepared owner-trainer, Jacobson had 'Dude' cross-entered a day later in Aqueduct's Thanksgiving Day $200,000, Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap, a 6-furlong dash being run for the 104th time.
He left Chief Lion entered at Penn National.
After bobbling at the break, Chief Lion and jockey Martin Garcia grabbed the lead in the first quarter mile and stayed on to win by a half length putting $113,600 in the purse account of owner-trainer Jacobson.
The following afternoon, Stallwalkin' Dude broke from stall number 3 in the Fall Highweight as the even money favorite and high weight at 134 pounds. Joel Rosario was in the saddle substituting for Joe Bravo.
'Dude' dropped back to last in the field of seven after being seriously bumped by Threefiveindia and Javier Castellano coming from the gate.
After running behind traffic, Rosario found a seam passing the 16th pole and got through to win by 1-3/4 lengths over Threefiveindia. Life in Shambles and Irad Ortiz took third.
Jacobson and Saul Kumin's Head of the Plains Partners earned $120,000 for 'Dude's' 20th career lifetime win from 58 starts. That sum raised the former claimer's bankroll over the $1.6 million mark.
Fans of winter racing at the Big A, according to 'Dude's' connections, will be able to watch him race this season. He could try for another win in the $100,000 Gravesend on Dec. 23.
Actress is Comely...
A day later, Garyand Mary West's home bred Actress turned the 68th running of the $250,000, Grade 3 Comely Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct into a route when she and jockey Jose Ortiz took the lead on the far turn and went on to an 8-1/4-length victory.
After running the mile and a furlong in 1:52.66 on fast main track, the daughter of Tapit from the Milwaukee Brew mare Milwaukee Appeal collected her second trophy from seven lifetime starts.
She and the West's visited Pimlico's winners' circle in the spring following the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan on the Preakness card.
Velazquez Is Grade 1 at Churchill...
While Actress and Ortiz were scoring at the Big A, regular New York rider John Velazquez was making a Grade 1 score with Charles Fipke's Seeking the Soul in Churchill Downs' $500,000 Clark Handcap.
The win in the Clark was another major coup for the team of Fipke, Hall of Fame rider Velazquez and trainer Dallas Stewart.
Three weeks earlier, that trio captured the Grade 1 Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff with Fipke's homebred Forever Unbridled.
Seeking the Soul is a 4-year-old son of the Irish stallion Perfect Soul from the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking the Title.
With Velazquez aboard for the first time, the bay colt came from seventh in the nine-horse field to win by a half length over Good Samaritan and Joel Rosario, the winners of this year's Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Hopportunity and Florent Geroux were third a length behind Good Samaritan.
Seeking the Soul ran the mile and a furlong in 1:48.88 over a fast Churchill main track to score his fifth lifetime win from 17 starts. The winner's check boosted his earnings over the half million dollar level.
Seeking the Soul, reportedly came out of the Clark Handicap win in good shape. According to Stewart, he would like to take aim at the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (GI) on Jan. 27 with both recent winners.
“It’s such an honor to win the Clark,” Stewart said. “I hope he’s the second horse in the barn that will be in the Pegasus. We’ll see. I just want to enjoy this win a little longer and I’ll get with Mr. Fipke to figure it out.”
Forever Unbridled also is targeting the lucrative 1 1/8-mile race at Gulfstream Park.
N.Y.-bred Control Group Discovers...
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez was all set to take a pass on the 73rd running of Aqueduct's $200,000, Grade 3 Discovery Stakes, the Saturday feature of Thanksgiving weekend.
He said the Big A racing office “...said they needed horses. They only had four.” He reported the entry folks were “...looking for another New York-bred, Broken Engagement.
“I said, 'I don't know about Broken Engagement. I don't think he wants to go that far. But, Control Group, he loves two turns.' That's what we did,” the trainer concluded.
The racing fans who bet Control Group down to favoritism at 5 to 2 had no worries as jockey Joel Rosario put the New York-bred on the lead at the first call and stayed there to win by three lengths over Senior Investment, the winner of Keeneland's Grade 3 Lexington in the spring.
Control Group, a son of Posse from the Victory Gallop mare We Kept Her, was bred by the Colts Neck Stable and Alan Goldberg.
He ran the nine furlongs in 1:52.83 over a fast track.
In the inaugural running of the $125,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship on the outer turf in Race 8, New Farm's Rainbow Heir ran down Summation Time in the final furlong and fended off Dubini's late kick to win.
Summation Time broke alertly and led the field of 10 through a quarter-mile in 21.80 seconds and the half in 44.11. Under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Rainbow Heir, who had been as far back as fifth, gained ground out of the turn and surged past his stablemate in the final eighth.
Dubini, at 59-1, made an impressive late charge from the outside. But Rainbow Heir dug in, completing six furlongs in 1:08.60 as the Jason Servis trainee won by three-quarters of a length.
"He broke good and he put me in good position, I just held it together, and when I asked him he was there for me," said Ortiz, who notched his third win on Saturday and second in a stakes.
Rainbow Heir won his third stakes in his last five starts, adding to his victories in the Wolf Hill and the New Jersey Breeders Handicap on Aug. 27 at Monmouth Park in his 7-year-old campaign.
Big A Dates
Get out the 2018 calendars. Here are significant dates for Aqueduct's winter and spring meetings.
Mon., Jan. 1. $150,000, Gr. 3 Jerome, 3 yo., 1 mile.
Sat., Jan. 27. $100,000, Gr. 3 Toboggan, 4 and up., 7 f.
Sat., Feb. 3. $250,000, Gr. 3 Withers, 3 yo., 1 mile.
Sat., Mar. 10. $300,000, Gr. 3 Gotham, 3 yo., 1 mile; $200,000, Gr. 3 Tom Fool, 4 and up, 1 mile.
Sat., Mar. 31. New York Claiming Championship Day. Ten stakes for 4 yo and up worth a total of $695,000.
Aqueduct's Spring Meeting.
Sat., Apr. 7. $750,000, Gr. 2 Wood Memorial, 3 yo, 1-1/8 mi.; $400,000, Gr. 1 Carter H'cap, 4 and up, 7f.; $250,000, Gr. 3 Bay Shore, 3 yo, 7 f.; $300,000, Gr. 2 Gazelle, fillies, 3 yo, 7 f.; $150,000, Gr. 3 Excelsior, 4 and up, 1-1/8.
Sun., Apr. 8. $150,000, Gr. 3 Distaff H'cap, f and m, 4 yo and up, 7f.
Sun., Apr. 15. $200,000, Gr. 3 Top Flight Invitational, f and m, 4 and up, 1-1/8 mi.
Note: Races for 3-year-olds earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Races for 3-year-old fillies earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks.
Changes in distances of stakes races from previous years are due to the installation of the new main track and a second turf course completed during the summer of 2017.
Songbird To Be Bred To Arrogate
Mandy Pope, who purchased Rick Porter's champion Songbird for $9.5 million at the Fasig Tipton November Sale, announced the winner of nine Grade 1 races will be bred to Horse of the Year Arrogate.
Porter, the retired South Jersey automobile retailer, announced after Pope's winning $9.5 million bid sealed Songbird's sale that his reserve was below $5 million.
Pope has been a major investor in high class equine females in recent years with a stated breeding plan keeping the mares' fillies and selling their colts.
Pope drew the spotlight to her Whisper Hill Farm in 2010 when she went to $10 million to get Porter's horse-of-the-year St. Liam.
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