Horses will join many people in packing on a few extra pounds this Thursday as a field of six goes to post for the 99th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, the traditional Thanksgiving Day feature at Aqueduct.
Assigned the highweight of 135 pounds for the six-furlong sprint will be Poseidon's Warrior, who this past summer at Saratoga pulled a 36-1 stunner in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt for his first Grade 1 win. The four-year-old son of Speightstown subsequently finished third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park and then a dull 14th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.
"Initially, we thought it would be too quick from the Breeders' Cup after shipping from coast-to-coast and back, but he's doing very well," said Butch Reid from Philadelphia, where he trains Poseidon's Warrior. "He kind of sleep-walked around there at Santa Anita, but back in the cool weather, he's a different horse. He had a great blowout down the lane (Saturday) morning, 22 and change, and that kind of made our minds up."
Poseidon's Warrior is cross-entered for Wednesday's $200,000 Fabulous Strike at Penn National, where he will only have to tote 122 pounds. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has been named to ride the dark bay colt, who is 8-5 on the Fall Highweight morning-line, in both races.
Caixa Eletronica, who successfully toted 131 pounds to win a 1 1/8-mile starter handicap at the Spa in 2011, was assigned 133 pounds as he looks to return to the winner's circle for the first time since June. The seven-year-old son of Arromanches, who this year won the Rise Jim overnight stakes at the Big A, the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and Grade 2 True North Handicap on Belmont Stakes day, most recently finished seventh as the favorite in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont.
"I think the track was speed biased (in the Bold Ruler)," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "It seemed like during that little window of time, very few horses were making up any ground. They had to run against the grain of the track."
Javier Castellano will ride Caixa Eletronica, who is the 9-5 second favorite on the morning line.
Also toting 133 pounds will be Grade 1 King's Bishop winner Willy Beamin, who on Saturday at Aqueduct set the pace in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap before yielding in the stretch to winner Called to Serve. The Suave sophomore entered that contest off a runner-up effort in the Oklahoma Derby, which ended a six-race win streak he started in March.
Joining Willy Beamin from trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s barn will be This Ones for Phil, who has a pair of victories and two seconds in four 2012 starts. The six-year-old gelded son of Untuttable, who in 2009 won the Grade 2 Swale at Gulfstream Park, will be making his first start since finishing second as the favorite in Belmont's Diablo overnight stakes on May 10.
Alan Garcia had the call aboard Willy Beamin for the Discovery and retains the mount for the Fall Highweight, while Ramon Dominguez will be on This Ones for Phil.
Making his graded debut in the Fall Highweight is New York-bred stalwart Mine Over Matter, most recently victorious in the Hudson on New York Showcase Day at Belmont. The Mineshaft five-year-old is 1-2-1 from seven starts over the Big A's main track, including a last-to-first victory in the restricted Fabersham overnight stakes in April.
"He should get a good set up (in the Fall Highweight)," said trainer Mike Hushion, who has tabbed John Velazquez to pilot Mine Over Matter. "I'd like to win a graded stake with him, (owner) Mr. (Chester) Broman would like to win a graded stake with him."
Rounding out the field is Small Town Talk, second most recently in the Frank "Pancho" Martin overnight stakes on October 19 at Belmont. The Yes It's True colt was third in the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin in his graded bow in August at Monmouth Park.
Earlier on Aqueduct's Thursday card, nine juvenile fillies will go in the $80,000 Lie Low. Mariel n Kathy, Coconut Shrimp and Flashy Gal, the top three from the Chelsea Flower on October 28 at Belmont Park, as well as Grade 3 Miss Grillo fourth-place Fly Again are all entered in the one-mile turf affair.