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Consistent Ruffino Headlines Alex Robb

On the eve of his eighth birthday, New York-bred stalwart Ruffino goes for his second straight victory when he faces a solid field of seven other state-breds Friday afternoon in the 32nd running of the $65,000 Alex M. Robb at Aqueduct Racetrack.

 

After earning one second and two third-place finishes in his first six starts of 2010, the son of Raffie’s Majesty came through with a narrow, hard-fought victory over Icabad Crane and Mine Over Matter in the Tinchen’s Prince on November 25. The win lifted Ruffino’s career record at Aqueduct to an enviable 6-1-0 from eight starts and trainer Jim Bond is hoping the gelding will continue his pattern of success in the 1 1/16th mile Alex M. Robb.

 

“He’s just game, that’s all,” said Bond, who trains Ruffino for his wife, Tina Marie. “Just when you think he perhaps has slowed down a step, he pops up and wins one on Thanksgiving Day. We are very lucky to have him in the barn.”

 

Regular rider Mike Luzzi will be back aboard Ruffino, who drew the rail under co-highweight of 121 pounds.

 

Like Ruffino, Icabad Crane has been remarkably consistent at the Big A, compiling a record of 3-4-3 from 11 starts, with his most recent victory coming in the King’s Point Handicap in March.

 

“He seems to run very well over the inner dirt,” said John Panagot, assistant to Icabad Crane’s trainer, Graham Motion. “He’s been right there his last few starts on the inner, including the Tinchen’s Prince. The New York-breds are a tough little division, and this seems to be a good spot for him. Graham has done an outstanding job spacing out his races.”

 

Rajiv Maragh rides Earle Mack’s color-bearer from post position 4.

 

The multiple stakes winner Giant Moon, who had a pair of victories and two seconds over the spring and summer, checked in fourth in the Tinchen’s Prince, which came on the heels of a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Empire Classic at Belmont Park.

 

“We’re looking to get him back on track,” said trainer Rick Schosberg of the 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, who shares high weight in the Alex M. Robb with Ruffino and 3-year-old Mine Over Matter. “He seems to have lost his way since winning the Evan Shipman at Saratoga, with a couple of sub-par performances. He’s a smart horse, and he might have been getting a little complacent.”

 

In the Alex M. Robb, Giant Moon will leave from the outside as he is reunited with jockey Ramon Dominguez, most recently aboard for his inner-track victory in the Mr. G.J.G. Stakes in March of 2009.

 

Stud Muffin opened his 2010 campaign with his first career victory over the inner track in a one-mile starter handicap. Following a fifth-place finish against similar company in February, the gelded gray son of Raffie’s Majesty was off for nearly 10 months and returned to finish last in the Tinchen’s Prince. He subsequently was third behind Inherit the Gold and Writingonthewall in an optional claimer on December 16, and trainer Tom Bush is hopeful Stud Muffin’s forward progress continues Friday.

 

“I was extremely disappointed in his first race back; there was really no explanation for it,” said Bush, who trains Stud Muffin for Louis Zito. “He was in a reasonable spot last time, and ran well enough.”

 

Eddie Castro is in the irons from post position 5.

 

Rounding out the field are Manteca, most recently fifth in the Empire Classic; turf specialist Spa City Fever, whose final start of 2010 will be his first of the year on the dirt, and Writingonthewall.

 

The field for the $65,000 Alex M. Robb:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

 

1

Ruffino (NY)

M J Luzzi

121

H J Bond

 

2

Mine Over Matter (NY)

J Castellano

121

R M Hernandez

 

3

Writingonthewall (NY)

C C Lopez

117

D Jacobson

 

4

Icabad Crane (NY)

R Maragh

119

H G Motion

 

5

Stud Muffin (NY)

E Castro

117

T M Bush

 

6

Manteca (NY)

D Cohen

117

T A Pletcher

 

7

Spa City Fever (NY)

J F Chavez

117

P J Kelly

 

8

Giant Moon (NY)

R A Dominguez

121

R E Schosberg

 

 

 


 


 

 

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