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Aqueduct - Awesome Slew, most recently third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, will launch his 5-year-old campaign Saturday against 10 opponents in the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.
A three-time graded stakes winner, Awesome Slew is the 121-pound high weight in the seven-furlong race for 4-year-olds and up. The Carter was carded as the eighth race on the 11-race Wood Memorial Day card.
Race 8 on Aqueduct's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:44 PM
|1||Spartiatis||30-1||Robby Albarado||Rudy Rodriguez|
|2||Army Mule||5-2||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher|
|3||Favorable Outcome||8-1||Kendrick Carmouche||Chad Brown|
|4||Do Share||5-1||Junior Alvarado||Linda Rice|
|5||Great Stuff||8-1||Dylan Davis||David Jacobson|
|6||Petrov||20-1||Manuel Franco||Ron Moquett|
|7||Red Dragon Tattoo||30-1||Paco Lopez||Juan Guerrero|
|8||Green Gratto||30-1||Christopher DeCarlo||Gaston Grant|
|9||Skyler's Scramjet||3-1||Trevor McCarthy||Michelle Nevin|
|10||Fellowship||20-1||Jeremy Rose||Kenneth Decker|
|11||Awesome Slew||4-1||John Velazquez||Mark Casse|
Awesome Slew, a Live Oak Plantation homebred, made nine starts in 2017, winning the Grade 3 Commonwealth at seven furlongs in April at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Ack Ack at one mile in September at Churchill Downs. In addition to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, the son of Awesome Again earned a Grade 1 placing with a second in the Forego in August at Saratoga.
"Last year he ran all year round," said trainer Mark Casse. "After the Breeders' Cup we thought about running him in Dubai, but his campaign was harder on him than any of our other Breeders' Cup horses. We sent him home to Live Oak, as Mrs. [Charlotte] Weber likes to do. They do such a great job at their training facility, and he looks like a bigger, stronger horse now."
Casse said the Carter's history and Grade 1 status were the main factors behind their decision to come to Aqueduct.
"[Awesome Slew is] a beautifully bred horse with a wonderful mind, so he needs a Grade 1 on his resume," said Casse. "We're hoping he'll be a stallion prospect. We could have gone back to Keeneland [for the Commonwealth], but given the great history of the Carter we felt like it was worth taking a shot."
Casse said their ultimate goal this year is the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, which will be conducted around one turn at Churchill Downs.
"He's won going seven furlongs, but I wish [the Carter] was a little farther," said Casse. "I will say that the difference between a mile and seven eighths is that sometimes you get a little more pace going seven eighths. He seems to be a really good come-from-behind sprinter."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Awesome Slew from post 11.
The Carter will present a stern class test for Army Mule, who is unbeaten and untested in two starts. The St. Elias Stable colorbearer debuted an 8 ½-length winner last April at Belmont Park before going to the sidelines for nine months. He made a winning return January 30, overcoming a slow start to take a six-furlong optional claimer by 7 ½ lengths at Gulfstream Park.
"We felt like his maiden race and allowance race were both very impressive," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "It's a big jump from a one-other-than to a Grade 1, but we feel like he has that type of ability. So, we're hoping we get to see that in the Carter."
Army Mule, a son of Friesan Fire who sold for $825,000 as a 2-year-old at Fasig-Tipton's Timonium sale, stalked the pace in both of his wins.
"I think he's a horse that will stretch out in distance," said Pletcher. "He's very fast but he's also very kind and rateable. We felt like this was a good opportunity for him and the Grade 1 status is important. So, we felt like instead of taking another incremental step in an allowance race that we'd go ahead and test where he is with the big boys."
Army Mule, will leave from post 2 with Joe Bravo aboard.
Favorable Outcome, winner of the 2017 Grade 2 Swale, prevailed by a neck in his only start at Aqueduct, an optional claimer in November. He subsequently finished third in the Grade 1 Malibu and enters the Carter off a sixth as the even-money favorite in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint on March 3.
Chad Brown trains Favorable Outcome for Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence. Favorable Outcome drew post 3 and will have the services of Kendrick Carmouche.
The Carter attracted Skyler's Scramjet, Do Share, and Great Stuff, the top three finishers from Aqueduct's Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, contested at six furlongs March 10.
Making his graded stakes debut in the Tom Fool, Skyler's Scramjet pressed Green Gratto for a half mile, took over at the top of the stretch, and was driven to the wire to prevail by 1 ½ lengths. It was the third straight victory for Skyler's Scramjet, who won optional claimers at Aqueduct in December and February.
"The key for him is that he has learned to relax," said Michelle Nevin, who trains Skyler's Scramjet for SJB Stable and Marcello Micozzi. "He's a nervous horse, but he relaxes better now. He loves Aqueduct and we're based here, so this is a good opportunity for him to try a Grade 1."
The Carter will be Skyler Scramjet's first start beyond six furlongs since his seventh-place finish in a seven-furlong allowance last May at Belmont.
"I'm not worried about [the extra distance] as long as he relaxes," said Nevin.
Trevor McCarthy will ride Skyler's Scramjet from post 9.
Do Share, claimed for $50,000 in January 2017, won an optional claimer and the Gravesend within a nine-day span in December at Aqueduct. He made a seven-wide rally in the Tom Fool and gained 3 ¾ lengths on Skyler's Scramjet in the final furlong.
Trained by Linda Rice for the estate of Anthony Miuccio, Do Share drew post 4 and was assigned 118 pounds. Junior Alvarado has the mount.
Like Do Share, Great Stuff was claimed for $50,000 and went on to become a stakes winner, taking the Grade 3 Toboggan at seven furlongs in January at Aqueduct. Cutting back a furlong in the Tom Fool, he raced evenly in the stretch and finished 4 ½ lengths behind Skyler's Scramjet.
David Jacobson trains Great Stuff and owns the 6-year-old in partnership with Bruce Golden. Great Stuff, will carry 116 pounds, including jockey Dylan Davis, from post 5.
Veteran campaigner Fellowship looks to regain form after finishing fifth in Aqueduct's one-mile Stymie on March 10. He was second, beaten a neck by repeat winner Something Awesome, two starts back in the Grade 3 General George Handicap in February at Laurel Park and won an optional claimer at that venue in January.
"Seven furlongs is his distance, so we'll look for him to do well in [the Carter]," said trainer Kenneth Decker. "He pretty much sits back early and picks himself up coming into the turn and makes a good run up the lane, so we'll look for that."
Fellowship, assigned 115 pounds, will depart from post 10 with Jeremy Rose in the irons.
The field also includes Spartiatis, sixth in the Tom Fool; Petrov, victorious in an optional claimer in February at Oaklawn Park; Red Dragon Tattoo, winner of an open allowance in November at Parx Racing; and 2017 Carter winner Green Gratto.
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