Claimed for $14,000 earlier this year, 6-year-old Endless Circle paid big dividends in his graded stakes debut, rallying to take the $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) by two lengths on Thanksgiving Day at Aqueduct Nov. 25.
Ridden by Edgar Prado for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, Endless Circle won for the eighth time in 13 starts this season. The New York-bred son of Precise End was making his debut in open company after winning a pair of state restricted stakes earlier this year. He notched his 11th career win from 25 starts and upped his earnings to $437,768.
Racing mid-pack through a half-mile that went in a swift :44.80, Endless Circle came three-wide into the lane, passed a trio of rivals in upper stretch, and methodically inched clear to win handily. The final time was 1:09.79 for the six furlongs on the fast dirt.
Jack On the Rocks was runner-up under Eddie Castro, three parts of a length in front of favored Wildcat Frankie, who set the pace with Javier Castellano aboard and carried a two-length advantage into the stretch.
Jockey John Velazquez, who was unseated when his mount Go Go Shoot stumbled and fell in the stretch, suffered no apparent injuries and was cleared by NYRA first aid. Go Go Shoot returned to his feet and galloped off, also apparently uninjured.
“I guess that was a nice claim,” said Prado, who has been aboard Endless Circle for his last seven starts. “The race set up beautifully, a lot of speed in the race. He was behind and worked his way between horses and finished well.”
Endless Circle came into the Fall Highweight off a sixth-place finish as the beaten favorite in the Oct. 23 Hudson Stakes at Belmont. He won the state-restricted John Morrissey and Easy N’ Dirty Stakes in his previous starts.
The dark bay/brown colt was claimed twice this year, the second time by Vincent S. Scuderi and James Riccio on April 16, just before he won a 7 1/2-furlong contest at Aqueduct. He was previously in the barn of David Jacobson. Since that claim, Endless Circle has won six of eight starts.
The winner was bred by Sez Who Thoroughbreds and is out of the Pentelicus mare Inside Circle.
It was the first graded stakes win as a trainer for Rodriguez. “He came out of the Hudson with a little infection. We got that cleared up, and today he showed up. He’s a horse who’s been very good to us."
Sent off as the fourth choice in a field of eight, Endless Circle paid $11.60, $6.50 and $4.60. Jack On the Rocks returned $5.60 and $2.90. Wildcat Frankie was $3.60 to show.