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Competitive Red Smith at Aqueduct

Opening weekend at Aqueduct brings with it the final graded turf event for males in New York this year, the 51st running of the Grade 2, $150,000, 1 3/8-mile Red Smith Handicap, which has drawn a competitive field of nine.


Trainer Christophe Clement has entered a pair of runners both exiting good efforts in Grade 1 company – Grassy, a late-running third in the 1 ½-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park on October 2, and Center Divider, most recently fourth in the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont the following weekend.


“Grassy is doing great,” Clement reported. “He ran a very nice race finishing third in the Turf Classic and came out of it in good order. We are supposed to get some rain tomorrow and he should enjoy the softer turf.”


A 4-year-old son of El Prado owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Grassy seeks his first stakes win in the Red Smith, with the Turf Classic – won by Breeders’ Cup Turf-bound stablemate Winchester – his career-best stakes effort to date. Grassy was seventh in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on August 14 at Saratoga, a race which he entered off a comfortable victory in an optional claimer on July 2 at Belmont.


Clement has also entered the lightly-raced 3-year-old Center Divider, who broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs in February and won a Keeneland turf allowance on April 18, his most recent start prior to the Jamaica.


Grassy will carry 117 pounds including Joe Bravo from post position 6, while Jose Lezcano has been named to ride Center Divider, 113 pounds, from post 3.


Strike a Deal seeks his second Red Smith victory, having scored a seven-length win in the 2008 edition of the race. The 6-year-old son of Smart Strike has not found the winner’s circle since taking the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico on May 15 and exits a pair of disappointing efforts in New York, an eighth in the Turf Classic and a fourth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green on September 11.


Strike a Deal gets the services of Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado from post 8.


Making his first start for new trainer Todd Pletcher is the Brazilian-bred Group 1 winner Jeune-Turc. Previously trained by Paulo Lobo, the 6-year-old has made two starts in the United States, finishing eighth in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth on July 3 and then fifth in the Bowling Green.


“We’ve had him since September 15 and he came to us from Paulo in exceptional condition,” said Jonathan Thomas “He acts like a classy horse and we’re happy to have to him.”  


David Cohen will ride from post 4.


Also returning from the Bowling Green is the Roger Attfield-trained Simmard, third in that race and most recently seventh in the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine on October 16.


The 7-year-old multiple Grade 1 winner Presious Passion, exiting a ninth-place effort in the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland on October 21, drew the rail as the 122-pound high weight in the Red Smith. The gelding boasts a lifetime record of 14-7-2 from 48 starts and was a competitor in both the 2007 and 2008 runnings of the Red Smith, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. 


Whatsthescript, a Grade 2 winner in California who stood the first part of the year at stud, scored his first victory since being returned to racing when he prevailed by a neck in the 1 1/16-mile Keep the Promise at Belmont on September 19. This summer, the 6-year-old son of Royal Anthem was fourth in the Fourstardave and sixth in the Bernard Baruch, both Grade 2 races at Saratoga.


Rescue Squad and Bold Hawk enter the Red Smith off Keeneland allowances, with Rescue Squad finishing third in an October 10 contest and Bold Hawk running fourth in a race on October 13, his first start in nearly three years.


The field for the Grade 2, $150,000 Red Smith Handicap:








Presious Passion (FL)

E Castro


M Hartmann


Simmard (KY)

C Hill


R L Attfield


Center Divider (KY)

J Lezcano


C Clement


Jeune-Turc (BRZ)

D Cohen


T A Pletcher


Rescue Squad (KY)

J L Castanon


C R McGaughey III


Grassy (KY)

J Bravo


C Clement


Whatsthescript (IRE)

J Alvarado


G C Contessa


Strike a Deal (KY)

E S Prado


A E Goldberg


Bold Hawk (KY)

J Lezcano


J J Toner




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