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Saginaw Heavy 4-5 Favorite in Gravesend

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.


Last year’s 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 well.”


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 morning line.


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.


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