OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Live thoroughbred action will return to Aqueduct Racetrack Thursday, December 29 for a five-day race week over the New Year's holiday weekend. Along with a Pick 6 carryover of $30,987 beginning in Race 4, Thursday's card will be highlighted by a field of nine in the 38th running of the $100,000 Damon Runyon for New York-bred juveniles at a mile and 70 yards.
Trainer Linda Rice will be represented by a pair of contenders in the Damon Runyon, sending Breeze Easy LLC's Mollica and Carradine for owners D A S L Stable.
Mollica, a $240,000 2-year-old-in-training purchase by Uncle Mo, was fifth on the grass in his career debut before returning in an off-the-turf maiden special weight December 4 at Aqueduct to register a field-high 83 Beyer Speed Figure for his 3 ¾-length win.
Carradine, by Grasshopper, has posted back-to-back victories this fall at the Big A, most recently taking an optional claiming contest by a nose over the inner-track on December 17.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the mount aboard Mollica, set to leave from post 3 as the 5-2 program favorite, while Angel Arroyo will ride Carradine, 8-1 on the morning line, from post 4.
Chester and Mary Broman's homebred Haul Anchor will make his Aqueduct debut for the Kiaran McLaughlin barn. Haul Anchor boasts a win and three seconds from five career starts, including a runner-up finish in his stakes debut to Mirai in the Bertram Bongard at Belmont Park. In his only off-the-board finish, the 2-year-old son of Bernardini faded to eighth on a sloppy and sealed track last time out in the Sleepy Hollow on October 22. Drawing post 5, Haul Anchor, 8-1, will have the services of veteran jockey Cornelio Velasquez.
Sleepy Hollow runner-up Tellmeafookystory will return to state-bred company following his seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Remsen on November 26. By Tale of Ekati, Tellmeafookystory broke his maiden in October after transferring to trainer Todd Pletcher. He made his stakes debut 12 days later, finishing second in the Sleepy Hollow, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of two-time stakes winner Gold for the King in third. Installed at 4-1 on the morning line, Tellmeafookystory is set to depart from post 6 with Kendrick Carmouche aboard.
Rounding out the field for the Damon Runyon are Mo Maverick (12-1), a two-time winner on the turf for trainer George Weaver and owners R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables; Six String Stable's D'yer Mak'er (20-1), entered as a first-time gelding for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito; the Mike Hushion-trained Voodoo Song (6-1) for owner Barry K. Schwartz; Bourbon Lane Stables' Bourbon Empire (7-2), looking to improve on his third-place finish in the Notebook for the Mark Hennig barn; and Jeremiah Englehart trainee Macho Miah (15-1), second this fall in the Aspirant and New York Breeders' Futurity.
Racing will continue on Friday, December 30 with the 79th edition of the $100,000 East View, featuring a showdown between impressive 2-year-old New York-bred fillies Bonita Bianca and Tiznow's Smile.
Trained by Rudy Rodriguez, Bonita Bianca opened her career with a pair of state-bred victories, including a 5 ¼-length score in the Maid of the Mist at Belmont in October before running third in the Grade 2 Demoiselle November 26. Owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC and Michael Imperio, the chestnut daughter of Curlin will break from post 3 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
Picking up her first win in a maiden special weight on December 11, Tiznow's Smile already owns a pair of on-the-board finishes against New York-bred stakes company, including a runner-up effort behind Filibustin in the Joseph A. Gimma in October. By Tiznow, the Charlie Baker trainee wired the field over the inner track in her most recent start to earn a 71 Beyer for her 2 ¾-length victory. Tiznow's Smile will be ridden by Manny Franco from the outside post.
Also entered for the East View are the Pletcher-trained Overnegotiate, second in the Key Cents last time out for owner-breeder Repole Stables; Glenn Bennett's Bree's Got Heart, a distant third in the Maid of the Mist, from the Robert Reid Jr. barn; and Messer Misfit, a $25,000 claim two starts back for owner Jeffrey Cohn and making her first start for trainer Emron Ibrahim.
With a first post time of 12:20 p.m., live racing at the Big A will continue over the holiday weekend through Monday, January 2, anchored by the 147th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Jerome for newly-minted 3-year-olds and an official prep stakes on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby."
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