Rudy Rodriguez, who wrapped up his
18-year riding career with 221 winners from 3,900 starts, has gotten off to a
flying start in his new career as a trainer.
On Thursday, Rodriguez saddled Chromospere to win the sixth race on
the turf at Aqueduct, his second straight winner on the heels of Aegean Breeze’s victory on March 31.
The 37-year-old trainer is now 2-2-1 from eight starts with earnings of $34,530.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to
quit riding, but becoming a trainer had been on my mind for a long time,” said
Rodriguez, who has 12 horses stabled at Aqueduct for various owners including
Michael Dubb, Michael Imperio and Robert Joscleyn. “I am so appreciative of
[NYRA vice-president and racing secretary] P.J. Campo giving me the stalls.
New York is
not an easy place to start out. I am very blessed.”
Rodriguez, who drew up around
saddle horses in Mexico ,
followed his jockey brother, Jesus, to the United
States as a teenager and soon began working for
Richard Dutrow, Sr., and subsequently became the main exercise rider and
sometime-jockey for Rick Dutrow. In fact, in 2008, Rodriguez scored the first
and only Grade 1 victory of his riding career when he piloted longshot Frost
Giant to win the Suburban at Belmont for Dutrow.
“That was definitely the
highlight of my career,” said Rodriguez, who added: “Rick is a very, very good
horseman. I learned so much from him and the whole family, about hard work and
paying attention to what horses want to do.
“I love being around horses. I
always tried my best when I was a jockey, and as a trainer I try to do the best
I can. I know the owners want to see results.”
Trainer Tim Ice, who made quite a
splash last year when he saddled Summer Bird to victories in New York’s three
biggest Grade 1 races – the Belmont Stakes, the Travers, and the Jockey Club
Gold Cup and onto the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 3-year-old colt – will
be shipping a string of horses from Oaklawn Park to Belmont Park next week.
“I had some success there last
year, and I want to build on that and meet new clients,” said Ice, who actually
was 4-for-4 in New
York , having also saddled Independence War to victory in
a claiming race last October. “The goal is to establish myself on the New York circuit.”
Ice will be bringing in nine
horses for owner John Ed Anthony, including a pair of promising 3-year-olds in
New Madrid, who is running in
Saturday’s Arkansas Derby, and Graysonia, a son of Forestry who was
second in a maiden race in his most recent start. Also coming in is Two Perfect, a 2-year-old Two Punch
colt owned by Dr. Leonard Blach, part of the team that campaigned 2009 Kentucky
Derby winner Mine That Bird.
Ice and the horses are scheduled
to arrive Thursday morning.
“I’m anxious to get up there
because I’m excited about the horses I’m bringing,” said Ice, who no longer
trains Summer Bird, now in the care of Tim Ritchey along with the rest of Drs.
Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman’s horses “I know it’s going to be a rebuilding
year with a lot of young horses but I also know they will be competitive.”
Nyala Farm’s 7-year-old New York-bred turf powerhouse
Banrock continues to work toward his
season debut, having returned to Tom Bush’s Belmont barn in March following a winter in South Carolina .
Thursday morning at Belmont the
bay gelding breezed a half mile over Belmont Park’s main track in 50.50 looking
toward a 2010 campaign similar to the one he embarked on last year, which
brought him four wins from seven starts, all in state-bred company. In three open company tries, Banrock
finished second, fifth, and sixth including a nose loss to multiple graded
stakes winner Presious Passion in the Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park last June.
“He’s seven, but he’s a
well-rested seven,” Bush said of Banrock.
“He’s a long horse, but really short-legged. He’s all grass.”
Bush said Banrock would likely be
pointed to the Kingston Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for New York-breds on
May 30 at Belmont
Park , the same spot in
which he kicked off his 2009 campaign with an easy 4¾-length victory.
“He’s doing really well,” Bush
said. “I’d like to run him in the
New York-bred races and I probably want to run him in something open when he’s
real fresh, like we did at Monmouth last year.”
Bush added that Get Stormy, a two-time graded stakes
winner on grass in 2009, was gearing up for his 4-year-old campaign but that he
had no firm plans for the Stormy Atlantic colt, who breezed a half-mile at
Belmont on Thursday in 49.66.
Last fall, Get Stormy shipped to
Kentucky following back-to-back wins at
allowance and stakes company to take the Grade 3 Bryan Station at Keeneland and
the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs in October and November.
“He’s doing really well, too,”
Bush said. “I’m looking at the
Fort Marcy for him (Grade 3, $100,000, 1 1/16-miles at
Park on May 1), but I don’t
know if we can have him ready by then.
I really need to look at the condition book – maybe we can find an
overnight stake for him somewhere.”
Promising Kiaran McLaughlin
trainee Trappe Shot has returned to
Park and will target the
Grade 3, $150,000 Withers to be run on Saturday, April 24, closing weekend at
The 3-year-old Tapit colt, owned
by Mill House, debuted at Saratoga Race Course on July 29, and finished fifth
after stumbling at the break. Given
some time after that race, Trappe Shot broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park on
February 21 by more than ten lengths, then came back to trounce four allowance
foes by nearly thirteen lengths a month later. Both Gulfstream wins came against fellow
“We’re hoping to get a work into
him on one of the next three mornings, depending on weather,” McLaughlin said
Returning to McLaughlin’s barn
next week is Darley Stable’s Justenuffhumor, who spent the winter in
a third-place showing in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile at Santa Anita last
After winning allowance races
over the grass courses at both Aqueduct and Belmont last spring, Justenuffhumor captured a pair of
Grade 2 turf contests at Saratoga in the Fourstardave and Bernard
The 5-year-old son of Distorted
Humor most recently ran 15th in the Grade 1 Dubai Duty Free over the
Meydan grass course on March 27 while in the care of Saeed bin Suroor for
“He’s coming back to New York next week and we
think he’ll be back with us then,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin’s assistant Artie
Magnuson added that Elusive Warning
came out of his fourth-place effort in last Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000
Carter Handicap in good shape.
“That race came up a little
tough, but we thought he ran well,” Magnuson said. “We were very happy with the
effort. He could go to the
Westchester (Grade 3, $100,000, 1-mile, April 30) on opening day at Belmont .”
Seattle Smooth, unraced since winning last
year’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont in June, breezed at Aqueduct on
Thursday in preparation for her 5-year-old debut.
The daughter of Quiet American
covered four furlongs on the main track in :48.88, which was the quickest of six
moves over the distance. Seattle Smooth breezed three times at Palm Meadows
earlier this year.
“She’s training very well, and I
couldn’t be happier with her,” said trainer Tony Dutrow of Seattle Smooth, who
is currently riding a five-race winning streak. “She’s as good as I’ve ever had
Dutrow said Seattle Smooth could
return to the races in “about a month,” but no decision on where she’ll make her
comeback will be made until after he consults with owners Ernest Moody and
Mercedes Villa of Mercedes Stables, LLC. Following her 2010 debut, the bay could
defend her title in the Phipps, which is scheduled for June 12.
“I haven’t talked to her owners,
but the Phipps is a definite possibility,” Dutrow said. “It’s a Grade 1 race,
and she’s already in New
The Todd Pletcher-trained Hour Glass, who has hit the board in
all seven of her lifetime starts, is among a half-dozen fillies and mares likely
for the 56th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff at Aqueduct Racetrack on
Saturday, April 17.
According to NYRA stakes
coordinator Andrew Byrnes, also being pointed to the seven-furlong race are Matchless Orinda, runner-up in the
Grade 3 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream on February 27; Strut the Canary, 5-2-1 from nine
starts in the mid-Atlantic; Tar Heel
Mom, who has a pair of seconds and one third in three starts in graded
company in Florida this year; Thunders
Dove, third in the Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park in her most
recent start, and either multiple graded stakes winner Justwhistledixie or recent allowance
winner Sheikh’s Serenade from the
barn of Hall of Famer Bill Mott.