In his last start, Denise Walsh’s Sir Greeley finished well back in the Nov. 24 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I). Now trainer Jimmy Jerkens is dropping the son of Mr. Greeleydown in class and shooting for a third stakes win in the $100,000-added Toboggan Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct March 8.
Race eight on a 10-race card, the six-furlong Toboggan preludes the $250,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III), which is race nine. Six older horses will contest the inner track sprint, including City Attraction, Santana Strings, and Bold Start. Carrying 116, Sir Greeley is the co-high weight with City Attraction.
Following the Cigar Mile, in which the 6-year-old gelding faded to last in a field of five, Jerkens shipped Sir Greeley to Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. He last turned in a five furlong move there Feb. 28, going the distance in 1:00.20.
“He looked great when he got back to me at Belmont and he’s trained great since getting here,” said Steve Moyer, Jerkens’ New York assistant. “He’s definitely got a lot of bounce in his step. I’ve got to feel pretty confident taking him over there. He’s always liked Aqueduct.”
Winner of the Westchester Handicap (gr. III) in 2006, Sir Greeley turned in a trio of runner-up efforts in grade III events last year. He lost to recognizable sprinters such as Silver Wagon, Chatain, and Keyed Entry.
“Over the course of his career, I think he’s shown he’s a very tough customer when he’s running against grade III horses,” Moyer said. “On the surface, this is the kind of race you’d hope to come back in.”
Bred in Kentucky by Fred Hertich III and Brilliant Stables out of the Concern mare Worry Not, Sir Greeley will break from post two under jockey Eibar Coa.
One horse who might stand a chance at overturning Sir Greeley’s bid is the Steve Asmussen-trained Santana Strings. With 32 starts under his belt, the Wheaton runner turned in a solid place effort behind top sprinter Benny the Bull in Gulfstream’s Sunshine Millions Sprint Jan. 26.
A previous eighth-place finish by Santana Strings in the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) should be discounted, as the 6-year-old horse was making a bid in third when he encountered traffic in the stretch and had to take up to avoid a spill. Bred in Florida by Sez Who Thoroughbreds out of the Prospectors Gamble mare Smiling Santanna and owned by Millennium Farms, Santana Strings seeks his first win since October of last year, when he took a six-furlong allowance event over the Keeneland Polytrack by 1 ¼ lengths. He last worked four furlongs at Belmont in :48.69 March 2. Jockey Stewart Elliott rides from post three.
Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ City Attraction won the Graveshead Handicap (gr. III) last December after running up a solid record in allowance company. But the 5-year-old son of Vicar, bred in Kentucky by Lothenbach Stables out of the Quiet American mare American Slew, will have to bounce back from a poor performance for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. in the Jan. 26 Paumonok Handicap, when he ran last in the six-furlong event’s field of seven. City Attraction's most recent work was a March 6 move at Aqueduct - five furlongs in 1:01.79.
Bold Start, Man of Danger, and Ravalo complete the field.
$100,000-added Toboggan Handicap (gr. III, race 8, approximate post 4:21 p.m. EST), six furlongs, older horses, dirt
PP, Horse, Age, Weight, Jockey
1. City Attraction, 5, 116, Ramon Dominguez
2. Sir Greeley, 6, 116, Eibar Coa
3. Santana Strings, 6, 115, Stewart Elliott
4. Bold Start, 4, 114, Alan Garcia
5. Man of Danger, 6, 115, Charles C. Lopez
6. Ravalo, 4, 114, Michael Luzzi