Headed by New York-bred stalwart Saginaw, a field of six seasoned sprinters will go postward Saturday in the 54th running of the Gravesend Handicap, the final stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack prior to the annual holiday break.
The Big A will be closed for live racing from Monday, December
17 through Tuesday, December 25, with the $75,000 Alex M. Robb for
state-breds headlining the card when
racing resumes on December 26. Simulcasting will be available at
Aqueduct and the Belmont Café during the break except for Christmas Eve
and Christmas Day.
Saginaw, a winner of nine of his 12 starts this year, is the 4-5
morning-line favorite as he makes his second stakes start of 2012
against open company. Claimed for
$30,000 in March by trainer David Jacobson and Drawing Away Stable, the
6-year-old gelded son of Peruvian won four straight for his new
connections, then was an overmatched sixth behind winner Shackleford in
the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in May.
“He was in over his head in the Met Mile,” said Jacobson of
Saginaw, who rebounded to win four of his next five starts, including
three state-bred stakes races. “He
runs well at a certain level, and we’re hoping he can take it to the
next level in this race. Seven furlongs or a mile might be a better
distance for him, but he’s doing well and we’re looking to him coming
back against New York-breds at the end of the month
[the Alex M. Robb on December 26].”
With Junior Alvarado aboard,
Saginaw will leave from post position 4 under high weight of 119 pounds.
Gravesend winner, Frazil, will seek to
defend his title as he makes his second start in 10 months. A
three-quarter-length victor over Pretty Boy Freud in last year’s
edition, the 6-year-old gelded son of The Cliff’s Edge went
on to finish fourth in the Rise Jim overnight stakes in January and
second in an allowance in February at Parx Racing. He returned on
November 21 to finish second in a starter handicap.
“After the race at Parx he had a few minor issues, including a
quarter crack,” said owner-trainer Linda Rice of Frazil. “He’s been so
good to me over the years, I turned
him out for four or five months. I would have liked to get a few more
races into him, but there are limited opportunities. Hopefully he’ll run
Cornelio Velasquez will ride Frazil, 15-1 on the morning line, from post position 6.
Rice also will saddle MAT Stables’ Royal Currier, who in two
appearances at the Big A last winter won a starter handicap and finished
fifth in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap.
Most recently, the 4-year-old Red Bullet gelding was ninth in the Frank
J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. Stewart Elliot will be in
the irons as Royal Currier leaves from post position 2 at 4-1 on the
Rounding out the field are Michael Dubb’s Hillwsick, a
front-running winner of an optional claimer at Laurel last time out and
the second choice on the morning line
at 7-2; mid-Atlantic shipper Broad Rule, and Isn’t He Perfect, most
recently third in the Queens County on December 8.