The battling New York-breds Samraat and Uncle Sigh both turned in solid works at Belmont Park April 18, and will have one more work there before shipping to Churchill Downs.
Two New York-breds have claimed the prep series in their native state as part of a gutsy rivalry, but here comes this lightly raced Florida shipper with enough hype to overshadow all others in the April 5 Aqueduct test.
"This horse has got the mind for a Derby horse," Gary Contessa remarked. "He'll walk into that stadium and there'll be 150,000 people there...and he'll be like 'Yeah, this is cool...whatever.' "
Francisco Valentin, a 21-year-old apprentice, posted his first career victory when Keen On Green led every step of the eighth and final race on the March 31 card at Aqueduct Racetrack.
All but assured of a berth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), undefeated Samraat was on his way back to Florida on the afternoon of March 2, a day after his Gotham Stakes (gr. III) victory at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Two New York-breds stood out in a six-horse field heading into the $250,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack, and those two put on quite a show with undefeated Samraat prevailing in the end.
Two highly regarded New York-breds lead a field of six 3-year-olds entered for the $250,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack on Feb. 1, both coming off impressive performances to tackle open company.
David Jacobson broke the New York record for training victories in a year Dec. 27 at Aqueduct. Jacobson has 160 wins for the season at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga, passing the mark set by Gary Contessa in 2007.
Trainer David Jacobson will have an opportunity to set the single-season record for New York Racing Association wins on the final weekend of the season.
Since March, 3-year-old turf standouts Rydilluc and Charming Kitten have been on parallel schedules, clashing four times. On Aug. 9 they will meet again in the Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga.
Defending champion Saginaw squares off against the up-and-coming Saratoga Snacks Aug. 1 at Saratoga Race Course in a contentious renewal of the $100,000 John Morrissey Stakes for New York-breds, 3 years old and up.
Trainers Gary Contessa and Linda Rice will be among the industry speakers participating in the New York Racing Association's next "New Owners Luncheon" at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 18.
Rydilluc got back on the winning track with a strong victory in the inaugural $460,000 Penn Mile for 3-year-olds on the turf at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course June 1.
Eight sophomore turf contenders entered the inaugural edition June 1 edition of the $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, including Noble Tune, Rydilluc, Jack Milton, and Charming Kitten.
"If horses could talk, what a job this would be," said one Gary Contessa, enjoying a bountiful breakfast at Keeneland. "I'd ask that sunofagun right now, 'Do you like that track as much as you like the grass?"
Trainer Gary Contessa discusses Blue Grass Stakes contender Rydilluc. Watch Video
It was a crowded scene at the April 10 post-position draw for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), as the connections crossed their fingers and hoped for good post positions.
Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) contenders Rydilluc, Uncaptured, Undrafted, and Dewey Square all turned in pre-race works April 5 at Keeneland. Also working were Dynamic Sky at Churchill and Fear the Kitten at Trackside.
Watching his Rydilluc dominate a group of 3-year-old turf runners in his stakes debut in the $150,000 Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) March 3 at Gulfstream Park, trainer Gary Contessa may have come to a conclusion.
New York-based trainer Gary Contessa secured the 2,000th victory of his career Feb. 7 when Al's Rosie prevailed in a maiden claiming race for fillies at Aqueduct.
Retired jockey Richard Migliore will host the New York Racing Association's eighth "New Owners Luncheon" at Aqueduct Racetrack Dec. 16.
Trainer Ian Wilkes declared Neck 'n Neck ready for the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes (gr. I) after the Jim Dandy (gr. II) runner-up breezed five furlongs in 1:00.09 at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 20 in New York.
The New York Racing Association, Inc.'s annual "Spirit of Giving" weekend is scheduled for Dec. 4-5 at Aqueduct Racetrack, featuring the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign and the "Stocking Stuffer" promotion.
Favored Grand Rapport charged home on the outside for jockey Ramon Dominguez to collar Workin for Hops in the final few strides, registering his first stakes victory in the $250,000 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) Sept. 25.
Grade II winner Whatsthescript, who stood the first part of the year at Tom and Debi Stull's Tommy Town Thoroughbreds near Santa Ynez, Calif., finished third in the July 10 Battlefield Stakes at Monmouth Park.
The speedy Eightyfiveinafifty had his first work since a fourth-place finish in the Derby Trial (gr. III) in the mud at Churchill Downs, covering a half-mile in :47.06 May 8 over the main track at Aqueduct.
A pair of Derby Trial (gr. III) starters could go on to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a win in the April 24 race at Churchill Downs.
Eightyfiveinafifty made a winning return in the seven-furlong Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) and cruised to a 2 1/2-length victory under Ramon Dominguez in the $200,000 event.
Eightyfiveinafifty should be able to return to training in a week after receiving 14 stitches to repair a cut suffered during his premature departure from the racetrack during the running of the Feb. 6 Whirlaway
There is no disputing the fact that Eightyfiveinafifty is fast, but the colt will get a chance to show how far he can carry his speed when he faces five 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes Feb. 6 at Aqueduct.
Recent maiden winner Eightyfiveinafifty has Gary Contessa talking Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The last day of 2009 found Ramon Dominguez in the same place as the first -- atop the jockey standings and in the winner's circle at Aqueduct.
Ramon Dominguez hustled Wishful Tomcat to the early lead in the Discovery Handicap and they never looked back, the duo leading every step of the way in posting a 1 3/4-length victory on Aqueduct's main track.
Winter Park Partners' Wishful Tomcat, a late-blooming 3-year-old with four wins in his last five starts, tries to notch his first graded stakes score when he takes on seven rivals in the $100,000-added Discovery Handicap (gr. III) Nov. 22 at Aqueduct.
Some leading New York trainers said a ban on toe grabs will help level the playing field, but they're not all convinced the shoes are responsible for catastrophic breakdowns.
New York-based trainer Gary Contessa has been named president of the Exceller Fund, a non-profit organization that transitions former racehorses into new careers.
Last year, Stronach Stables' Ginger Punch romped to a six-length victory in the Go For Wand (gr. I) en route to her Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) win and being named champion older female. The scary part for her competition is that trainer Bobby Frankel says the daughter of Awesome Again is vastly improved as a 5-year-old.
A small but accomplished group of 4-year-old fillies will clash in the $150,000 Bed o' Roses Handicap (gr. II) April 19 on the dirt at Aqueduct, including three entering off of graded stakes victories. The seven-furlong Bed o' Roses drew a field of six.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez and trainer Gary Contessa won their respective titles and set records when Aqueduct concluded its 2007-08 inner-track meet March 30. Racing switches to the main track April 2.
Maryland-based trainer Michael Trombetta will start a pair of 4-year-old fillies in the $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) March 22 at Aqueduct, including probable favorite Control System, the only graded stakes winner in the field of six.
Carolyn's Cat won the expected early speed duel from Dill Or No Dill and then never looked back, going wire-to-wire for a 3 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Cicada Stakes (gr. III) March 15 on the inner dirt course at Aqueduct.
Daaher was beaten soundly for the second consecutive race, this time in the Stymie Handicap March 1 at Aqueduct.
A Saint Liam yearling colt sold for $220,000 to top Saturday's session of the Keeneland January sale.
The veteran trainer won his 157th New York race of the year Dec. 29 at Aqueduct
The 3-year-old colt won the marathon by 10 lengths Dec. 29 at Aqueduct, denying Successful Affair's bid to repeat.
Winning Move Stable's Successful Affair will attempt to defend his title in the $75,000 Gallant Fox Handicap, the 5-year-old gelding will take on five challengers Dec. 29 at Aqueduct.
Trainer Gary Contessa, the leading trainer at the current Belmont fall meet, was suspended 15 days and fined $2,000 for a medication positive by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board Oct. 20.
New York Racing Association racing secretary P.J. Campo says NYRA officials will meet with horsemen in the next "couple days" to discuss maintenance of track surfaces at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga after a series of catastrophic injuries.
Breeders' Cup president and chief executive officer Greg Avioli said the organization hopes to achieve a number of goals with the newly created Breeders' Cup Challenge.
Paul Saylor's 2006 Eclipse Award winner Fleet Indian was named 2006 New York-bred Horse of the Year and Champion Older Female by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders at its annual awards banquet held May 14 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, NY.
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