Multiple Choice proved to be the correct answer Sunday when he rallied from off the pace to catch Sing Me Back Home in deep stretch and notch a ¾ length decision in the rescheduled $109,200 Gravesend Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct.
The six-furlong Gravesend was to be run on Wednesday, but racing was canceled due to heavy snow in the metropolitan area.
Multiple Choice, a 4-year-old Mt. Livermore gelding, sat just off the pace of Sing Me Back Home and Say Florida Sandy before rallying through the stretch for the win. Sing Me Back Home finished 1 ¼ lengths clear of Gold I.D. for the place."He's (Multiple Choice) much sharper now than he was a year ago at this time," said victorious trainer Jimmy Jerkens.Jerkens also saddled the favored Wrangler (2-1), who finished fifth. Say Florida Sandy, nearing the career $2 million mark as New York's all-time leading money earner, earned $6,652 for his fourth-place finish and now has won $1,988,807."It's kind of tough having two horses for different owners in a stake," he said. "I'm happy Multiple Choice got there, but I feel bad that Wrangler lost. Multiple Choice has been real consistent and he runs hard all the time. I still think he's getting better. "We'll try to look for a money allowance for Wrangler, get him a win and get his confidence back. He looked like he was in a good spot, but Multiple Choice pushed him back inside when he was trying to get out. That was the end of Wrangler."The win marked the third trip to the winner's circle in 11 starts this year for Multiple Choice, who completed the six furlongs in 1:09 1/5."This horse has a lot of heart," explained jockey Victor Carrero, who rode the winner. "He's better when he's outside of horses. He was really moving at the quarter pole."Owned and bred by Peter Blum, Multiple Choice was coming off a 7 1/4-length win in Aqueduct's Sports Page over a sloppy track Oct. 26. His seventh career victory in 24 starts was worth $65,520, increasing his earnings to $422,132.
Sent off at 9-2 in the seven-horse field, the winner returned $11.40, $5.40 and $3.20 while leading off a $61.00 exacta and $370.50 trifecta.
A race earlier, Tom's Thunder, making his first start for owner Michael Dubb, led from the gate to the wire to register a half–length victory over favored John Paul Too in the $85,500 Alex M. Robb Handicap at Aqueduct Sunday.
Ridden by C.C. Lopez, Tom's Thunder went for the lead from the start with John Paul Too a stalking second. Approaching the three-eighths pole, John Paul Too moved up to challenge Tom's Thunder but could not get by the front-running winner. John Paul Too held off the late run of Mount Intrepid by a neck to hold the place in the 1 1/16-mile test for New York breds.
A 4-year-old gelding by Thunder Puddles, Tom's Thunder was claimed in his last start Dec. 1 for $75,000.
"We were well drawn (post four)and it's so hard to take back with that short run to the first turn," said winning trainer Pat Reynolds. Being loose helps this horse, but that's not to take away from him. He shows up every time and is really game. We paid a lot for him, but that $75,000 price tag doesn't look so big right now."
Tom's Thunder earned $51,300 for the win.
The win was the fourth in 16 starts this year for Tom's Thunder and he returned $10.80, $5.70 and $4.40. He also topped a $45.20 exacta and keyed a $131.50 trifecta.(Chart, Equibase)