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Goldsville Steps Up in Excelsior

Goldsville, a sharp allowance winner March 6, National Pride, second in the Stymie the following day, and graded winner Nite Light headline a field of six on Saturday for the 98th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds and up on the outer dirt course at Aqueduct Racetrack.


After finding moderate success on the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita and Cushion Track at Hollywood Park against top horses such as Rail Trip and Neko Bay, the 5-year-old Goldsville was purchased by Marc C. Ferrell from the stable of Bill Mott and sent to trainer Michael Hushion to see if the son of Successful Appeal could realize his full potential on dirt.


Goldsville led deep into the stretch in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap on January 9 in his final start at Santa Anita, finishing 2½ lengths behind winner Neko Bay. Hushion gave the horse a couple months after that to get used to his new environs at Belmont Park and was rewarded with a sharp score in a 1 1/6-mile allowance race at Aqueduct over the tough Half Metal Jacket and The Roundhouse.


“We just wanted to run that race and see what we had,” Hushion said. “He had been training well and is a good-looking horse. Even though he had done well out [in California], the owners were hoping he’d be better on the dirt. I think we’ll find out Saturday.”


Goldsville went for the lead in the allowance win but was pulled back into a stalking position by jockey Ramon Dominguez when another horse was bent on making the pace. Goldsville might also have to be taken off the lead in the Excelsior as Darley Stable’s National Pride has lately proven a strong front-runner who led to the lane in the Stymie and won gate-to-wire two races prior to that.


Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the 5-year-old gelded son of Macho Uno doesn’t have to be in front, and “we’ll have to see how the race shapes up.”


Edward Evans’ Nite Light and Jill Pecoraro’s Seniors Pride, third and fourth respectively in the Stymie, also will run in the Excelsior.


While Nite Light’s lone graded win came in the 1 1/2-mile Turfway Park Fall Championship (Grade 3) in 2009, trainer Todd Pletcher feels that he’s capable of success at multiple distances.


“He’s at his best at a mile-and-a-quarter plus, but he is training well, so we are going to try a little shorter,” said Pletcher.


Aqueduct-based trainer Michael Tanuzzo believes strongly that Seniors Pride rates a chance in the race, having been too far back (four lengths) in the Stymie when chasing eventual winner Understatement.

“Having been behind Understatement last time, if he can sit his trip, he’ll do pretty good,” Tanuzzo said. “Last time, I had to go early to chase Understatement because he went early. [Seniors Pride] is the kind of horse that can sit, chase his target, and if he’s a length off he can go right by. If he’s five lengths back, he chases and has to grind.


“He’s the best horse I’ve got,” said Tanuzzo, who trains seven runners. “I don’t know if he’s going to be a stakes horse at Belmont. This is going to be a great test for him.”


C.P. Racing Stables’ More Than a Reason, fifth in the Stymie, returned March 14 to crush a starter allowance field by 6¼ lengths, setting up the 5-year-old’s return to stakes company.


“He had the worst trip in the Stymie,” trainer Randi Persuad said. “He got pushed off the rail and carried wide on the first turn.”


“He’s got a one-move run. You?ve got to take him to the outside. I’m confident we’ve got a chance to win,” Persuad said.


Long-shot Stargleam, owned by Mario Kat Racing, and trained by Billy Badgett Jr., completes the field.


The Excelsior is the second leg of the $500,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4 that begins with the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore and concludes with the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial and the Grade 1, $250,000 Carter.


The Excelsior is the second leg (Race 8, approximate post 4:40 p.m. EDT) of a $500,000 Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4 at Aqueduct.  The Pick 4 begins with the Grade 3 Bay Shore in race 7 (4:08 p.m.), continues with the Excelsior, the featured Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial (5:15 p.m.), and concludes with the Grade 1, $250,000 Carter Handicap (5:45 p.m.).  The 11-race card begins with a first race post time of 1:00 p.m.


The field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior:








Seniors Pride (FL)

Channing Hill


M. Tanuzzo



Stargleam (KY)

A.R. Napravnik


B. Badgett Jr.



Nite Light (KY)

J. Velazquez


T. Pletcher



Goldsville (FL)

R. Dominguez


M. Hushion



More Than a Reason (KY)

David Cohen


Randi Persaud



National Pride (KY)

Richard Migliore


K. McLaughlin




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