Control Group wins the Mr. Sinatra Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack

Control Group wins the Mr. Sinatra Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack

Coglianese Photos/Susie Raisher

Rodriguez Enters Triumvirate for Excelsior Stakes

Engage looks to take off in Bay Shore Stakes.

On the heels of capturing the Aqueduct Racetrack winter-meet title last weekend, trainer Rudy Rodriguez has no plans to slow down this spring, entering three contenders for the $150,000 Excelsior Stakes (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles April 7.

Michael Dubb and David Simon's Control Group is the most accomplished runner in the field. A New York-bred son of Posse, the 4-year-old enters the Excelsior on a three-race win streak, all at Aqueduct, including a three-length victory in the Discovery Stakes (G3) in November. Control Group captured the March 31 Mr. Sinatra Stakes, but Rodriguez has few concerns returning the colt for the Excelsior off just a week's rest.

"Tactically, if we can utilize his speed and it looks like he can steal the race on paper, then we'll run him," Rodriguez said. "He's training well, and there aren't many mile-and-an-eighth, two-turn races on the circuit after this meet until Saratoga, so we're looking to take advantage of that."

Also entered for Rodriguez is Admiral Blue and Wild About Deb.

Transferred from Phil D'Amato to the Rodriguez barn after running fifth in the Nov. 25 Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar, Wild About Deb made his first start for his new trainer March 3, winning an allowance race at Aqueduct.

"He's been doing very good and improving since we've gotten him," said Rodriguez. "He looks like a horse that likes the mile-and-eighth distance after his win last time at the distance, so we think he's earned a shot here."

Admiral Blue is looking to rebound off a fourth-place finish in the March 17 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes at Laurel Park. The 5-year-old son of Admiral Alex has one win from five starts at the distance with an allowance win Feb. 1 at Aqueduct.

"He's been training good as well," said Rodriguez. "He's going to take a big step up here in competition, but he's been training well, so we'll see how he does."

Saturday's card will also feature seven 3-year-old sprinters going seven furlongs in the $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes (G3).

Leading the field as the only graded stakes winner is Woodford Racing's Engage, who has not finished worse than second in three career starts. He was a 2-1 favorite in his debut at Saratoga Race Course but repeatedly bumped with National Flag before finishing second, 1 1/4 lengths behind.

A month later, the son of Into Mischief  graduated from the maiden ranks with a stalking trip that set him up for the Oct. 14 Futurity Stakes (G3) at Belmont Parkwhere he launched a four-wide bid and drew clear to beat the field by 3 1/2 lengths. The Chad Brown-trained colt will look to extend his win streak to three in his season debut.

A Different Style looks to begin his own streak after he shipped to Aqueduct and wired the field by three lengths in the muddy Jimmy Winkfield Stakes Feb. 10. The son of The Factor  will make his sixth start for trainer John Servis, and he could be loose on the lead through the early stages.

"I hope it works out that way," Servis said. "He's training real well leading up to this. He showed a lot of talent leading up to the race where he ran a bad fourth, but we corrected it, and we're looking forward to this."

WinStar Farm, SF Racing, and China Horse Club International's National Flag will face off with Engage for the second time after their bump-trading adventure upstate. The Speightstown  colt, whose connections considered the Wood Memorial, brings two victories into the race for trainer Todd Pletcher.

"He's been successful at this distance, and eventually we will stretch him out," Pletcher said. "We just felt like this was his second race of the year, and he's already proven that he can win at this distance. So, rather than trying to stretch him all the way out to a mile and an eighth (in the Wood Memorial), we'd just stick with what we know he does well and then go from there."

Entries: Excelsior S. (G3)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 07, 2018, Race 7

  • Grade III
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 4:11 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11Backsideofthemoon (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateTrevor McCarthy119Leo O'Brien8/1
22Discreet Lover (FL)Manuel Franco115Uriah St. Lewis8/1
33Zanotti (KY)Paco Lopez115Juan Carlos Guerrero7/2
44Wild About Deb (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez117Rudy R. Rodriguez5/1
55Harlan Punch (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateDylan Davis123David Jacobson5/2
66Admiral Blue (MD)Junior Alvarado117Rudy R. Rodriguez15/1
77Control Group (NY)Kendrick Carmouche123Rudy R. Rodriguez2/1

Entries: Bay Shore S. (G3)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 07, 2018, Race 9

  • Grade III
  • 7f
  • Dirt
  • $250,000
  • 3 yo
  • 5:17 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11I'm an Ocala Dude (FL)Trevor McCarthy114Michelle Nevin20/1
22A Different Style (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKendrick Carmouche120John C. Servis6/1
33Justaholic (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose C. Ferrer116Keith Nations8/1
44National Flag (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlavien Prat116Todd A. Pletcher7/5
55Engage (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez116Chad C. Brown9/5
66Aveenu Malcainu (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateManuel Franco123Jeremiah C. Englehart5/1
77Aqua Bel Sar (NY)Angel S. Arroyo116Bisnath Parboo30/1