Aqueduct rings in the new year with a battle of the Martin boys -- 25-year-old Carlos and his 27-year-old uncle, Greg -- in the $75,000 Interborough Handicap, a six-furlong New Year's Day fixture for fillies and mares 3 and up.
All fans with a paid admission to Aqueduct on Saturday also will receive a free 2005 wall calendar from the New York Racing Association.
Greg Martin, the son of Hall of Famer Frank "Pancho" Martin, may have the upper hand when he sends out Bank Audit, a 4-year-old daughter of Wild Rush who has back-to-back daylight wins during the current Big A meeting. Claimed by Robert J. Amendola for $65,000 at Belmont Park in July, Bank Audit finished off the board in her first two starts for her new connections, but time off and treatment for stomach ulcers allowed her to make a turnaround. "I really had no explanation why she ran so poorly, so we scoped her and found she had bad ulcers in her stomach," Martin said. "We gave her about seven weeks off and put her on medication. That really seemed to help."
There were no takers when Martin dropped her in for a $35,000 tag Nov. 13, and Bank Audit won by nine lengths going seven furlongs. One month later she beat allowance company by 3 3/4 lengths, covering the six furlongs in 1:11.11. Norberto Arroyo Jr. keeps the mount for Martin, who had a hot hand in December, with five wins and five seconds from 14 starts through Dec. 29.
Carlos Martin, son of Greg's older brother, trainer Jose Martin, saddles Mariakel for Crown Stable. The late-running gray daughter of the gray, late-running sprint champion Lit de Justice
made up seven lengths in the final furlong of the Garland of Roses Handicap in her last start but fell three-quarters of a length shy of the winner, finishing fourth in a blanket finish. Pablo Fragoso rides.
High Peaks figures to be the one to catch. The 4-year-old New York-bred by Peaks and Valleys
, trained by Thomas Bush for breeder Berkshire Stud, went wire-to-wire in her last start, winning a six-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct by 3 1/2 lengths Dec. 18. That was the filly's fourth win from 16 career starts for Bush, who also has had a hot December, winning with six of his 15 starters.
The only stakes winner in the field is Belong to Sea, a 5-year-old daughter of Belong to Me
trained by Lisa Lewis and owned by the partnership of NYRA co-chairman Steven Duncker, Jeffery Amling, Alan Quartucci, and Hudson River Farms. Belong to Sea, who has not started since finishing far back in the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga, won the 2003 Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III) at Pimlico. Belong to sea has won four of 11 career starts.
b>Interborough Handicap, Aqueduct, $75,000, six furlongs, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, Saturday, Jan. 1, approx. post: 3:44 p.m. EST
PP - Horse - Wgt. - Jockey –
1 – Lavender Lass – 116 – Rafael Bejarano
2 – Belong to Sea – 117 – Richard Migliore
3 – Sweet Vision – 113 – Mike Luzzi
4 – Candybedandy – 116 – Stewart Elliott
5 – High Peaks – 113 – Aaron Gryder
6 – Miriakel – 113 – Pablo Fragoso
7 – Bank Audit – 115 – Norberto Arroyo Jr.