As the days of 2004 dwindle down, one of the last chances to grab black type on the year comes in Wednesday's $75,000 Gallant Fox Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct. Nine horses were entered to compete over the Big A's inner track going the unusual distance of 1 5/8 miles.
Highweight falls to Colita, a 4-year-old colt who has nibbled around on some stakes but has yet to win one. Colita, conditioned by leading trainer Todd Pletcher, finished second in the Stuyvesant Handicap (gr. III) in November and came back to run third in the Queens County Handicap (gr. III) in December. He has finished out of the money just once in six efforts this year.
An interesting contender is Tamburello, who has hit the board twice in graded contests in his native Chile this year. He has already run six times since arriving in the U.S. in September, and comes into the Gallant Fox off a nice third behind Snake Mountain in an optional claiming event in December. He has won at 1 3/16ths and could be tough. Tamburello is conditioned by his owner, Michael Miceli.
New York Hero has won just once in 14 outings in 2004, and seeks to regain the form that won him the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) last year. He placed third in the National Jockey Club Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne in April, and comes in off a third in the Jennings Handicap at Pimlico two weeks ago. His longest victory came at nine furlongs.
Country Be Gold is another horse looking to regain his form. After taking the Gate Dancer Stakes at Delaware Park in August, he has tailed off, and was well back in the Queens County. Nevertheless, the son of Summer Squall has earned better than $730,000 lifetime. Hydrogen also was off the board in the Queens County and has yet to win in 2004, but the son of Pleasant Colony has won at the marathon distance of 14 furlongs, which may come in handy here.
The field for the Gallant Fox, in post position order with riders and weights:
1) Dr. Rockett (Jean-Luc Samyn, 109)
2) Colita (John Velazquez, 118)
3) Tamburello (Norberto Arroyo Jr., 115)
4) Country Be Gold (Richard Migliore, 113)
5) Salic Law (Rafael Bejarano, 109)
6) New York Hero (Pablo Fragoso, 116)
7) Hydrogen (Mike Luzzi, 114)
8) Limero (Shaun Bridgmohan, 113)
9) American Style (Alan Garcia, 112)