Liquor Cabinet may be a 6-year-old horse, but trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. believes the now-healthy son of Hennessyhas better still to come. He'll face seven rivals in the $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles on the inner track Saturday.
After getting injured in the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) in April for his previous trainer, Mark Hennig, Dutrow gave Liquor Cabinet got some needed rest and returned him to the races on Nov. 29. Liquor Cabinet responded with a hard fought neck win over stablemate Mr. Whitestone in an allowance race.
Dutrow thinks Edward Evans’ Liquor Cabinet will move forward when he runs second off the layoff Saturday.
“He had a minor injury and really needed a break,” Dutrow said of Liquor Cabinet’s long layoff. “I was very happy with his first race back. I’m under the impression that he’s as good now as he’s ever been.”
Liquor Cabinet will be after his initial stakes win in the Aqueduct ‘Cap where he will be ridden by jockey Ramon Dominguez for the first time. He came close to winning the Stymie last March, but came up a half-length short to Manchurian.
The main danger for Liquor Cabinet is David Cassidy’s Mayan King, who also made a recent return to the races after a fairly lengthy layoff. Mayan King finished second to Dutrow trainee Bank President in a Jan. 1 allowance at Laurel Park.
Dutrow is confident though that Liquor Cabinet will have Mayan King’s number when they cross the line on Saturday.
“If we can’t beat Mayan King, then Liquor Cabinet isn’t the horse I think he is,” Dutrow said. “My horse beat Mayan King last time and now Mayan King is coming back in 17 days, which I can’t imagine will be too good for him.”
Gary Contessa, Mayan King’s trainer, is not concerned about the time between starts because he feels Mayan King did not run his best race at Laurel.
“The track was wet and muddy and his best races aren’t over wet tracks,” Contessa said. “He really struggled with the track and still ran a good race. He came out of the race excellent and has trained excellent since.”
Jockey Mike Luzzi will ride Mayan King while C.C. Lopez will ride Contessa’s other horse in the Aqueduct, the speedy Silver Prospector.
Claimed for $50,000 at Monmouth in September, Silver Prospector went all the way on the lead to win the Don Rickles by 4 ½ lengths Dec. 7.
Fox Ridge Farm’s Naughty New Yorker will try to end a pattern of winning every other race when he goes for two in a row in the Aqueduct. The 5-year-old won the last stakes race of 2006, taking the Alex M. Robb by 2 ¾ lengths over Who What Win, who will also be present in the starting gate Saturday.
Alvin Haynes’ Angliana finished second to Naughty New Yorker in the off-the-turf Red Smith Handicap (gr. III) back in November. He exits a head defeat to Successful Affair in the 13-furlong Gallant Fox three weeks ago.
$100,000 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 3:48 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Track)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Naughty New Yorker (NY), 118, Jean-Luc Samyn
2. New York Hero (MD), 114, Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
3. Shuffling Maddnes (NY), 112, Eibar Coa
4. Mayan King (FL), 114, Michael J. Luzzi
5. Angliana (KY), 115, Jose A. Santos
6. Silver Prospector (KY), 114, Charles C. Lopez
7. Liquor Cabinet (IRE), 116, Ramon A. Dominguez
8. Who What Win (NY), 112, Jose L. Espinoza