The New York Racing Association's Claiming Championship Series will offer nine stakes races worth $625,000 when it returns for the third year on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Like in 2016, this year's iteration will be held on the main track at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Named after some of the most familiar claiming horses to run at the Big A, the nine races are open to horses which have started for a claiming price this year or last year.
Headlining the day's card is the $90,000 Mr. Sinatra, carded as Race 8, which drew a salty field of six. Expected to vie for favoritism in the 1 1/8-mile race are a pair of seasoned veterans, 2015 Mr. Sinatra winner Stormin Monarcho for Rudy Rodriguez and Fox Rules, a close second in the Haynesfield on February 11, for David Cannizzo.
Fox Rules, a tepid favorite on the morning line at 2-1, will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche from post 5. Stormin Monarcho, installed at 5-2, will break from post 4 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.
Rounding out the Mr. Sinatra field are Shalako, winner of an optional claiming event on January 29; Battery, claimed for $35,000 by David Jacobson last time out; Paul Pompa, Jr.'s homebred Hard Study, a 6 ½-length allowance winner February 11 from the Todd Pletcher barn; and Gary Sciacca trainee Testosterstone, fourth to Stormin Monarcho in a March 18 optional claiming race.
Kicking off the NYRA Claiming Championship series is the $60,000 Sis City for fillies and mares going one mile. Headlining the field is Maddizaskar for owner-trainer Jacobson, entering off a second-place finish in an allowance optional-claiming race on February 24. Familyofroses, most recently sixth in the Heavenly Prize on March 4, is also expected to attract support at the windows for trainer Neal Terracciano. Rounding out the field is Carlos Martin trainee Just Got Out, Roman Reign for trainer Richard Metivier, Little Miss Julia for owner-trainer Linda Fisher, and Reckless Humor for trainer Rudy Rodriguez.
In the $70,000 Xtra Heat at six furlongs for fillies and mares, Bow Town Cat will make his first start in New York since breaking in his maiden at the Big A in December. The 4-year-old daughter of Cowtown Cat has gone on to pick up an allowance victory and a pair of seconds at Gulfstream Park. Little Bear Cat will look to improve off a second-place finish in a March 3 allowance race at the Big A for owner-trainer David Cannizzo. Spun Copper, Palladian Bridge, Ring Knocker, and Littlemissbusiness will complete the field.
Foreset, who is 3-3-0 in eight career starts, will go for his third straight win in the $80,000 Caixa Electronica at seven furlongs in Race 3. The Jeremiah Englehart trainee is the only 4-year-old in the five-horse field, going up against more experienced entries. Englehart's other entry, Second City, is looking for his first win this year after posting two victories in 2016.
A pair of Rodriguez runners, Eye Luv Lulu and Story to Tell, are both looking to build on strong performances. Story to Tell is 2-1-0 in his last four starts and Eye Luv Lulu won against allowance company last out. John Toscano's Alex the Terror rounds out the field.
A pair of familiar faces highlights Race 4, the $75,000 Stud Muffin. The 9-year-old Praetereo is 2-2-1 in his last seven races for trainer Steve Klesaris. Marriage Fever, an 8-year-old Carlos Martin trainee, won a claimer last out on March 18. Saratoga Wildcat, from Rodriguez's barn, and Do Share, trained by Linda Rice, are also looking for their respective second straight wins. Bluegrass Prevails and Kick Off will also compete in the one-mile race.
Bass River Road, saddled by Rodriguez, will go for his fifth straight win as part of a 10-horse field in the $55,000 Kelly Kip in Race 5. Final Chapter, trained by Charlton Baker, has won two straight claiming races. Gambler's Ghost, trained by Gary Gullo, won last out at six furlongs and will try to duplicate that March 4 result over the same distance. Formal Summation, Lyrical Miracle, Chelios, Sol the Freud, Forest Boy and Roman Revival also comprise a competitive group.
Rodriguez will also send out La Inesperada in the $80,000 Karakorum Electra, set to go off as Race 6, and Becker's Galaxy and Are We Not Men in the $60,000 More To Tell, the day's nightcap as Race 9.
Also on tap for the Karakorum Electra, for fillies and mares at seven furlongs, is Chorus Line, third in the March 4 Heavenly Prize; Tahoe Tigress and Wildcat Belle, each making their first starts for Jeremiah Englehart since being claimed for $25,000 on February 26 and March 12, respectively; She's So Fine, 3-for-3 on the inner track this year for John Toscano; and Mama Joyce, claimed February 17 by Gary Contessa for $25,000.
Da Wildcat Girl will try to get past a recent bout of inner-track seconditis in the $55,000 Videogenic for fillies and mares at six furlongs. Trained by Eddie Barker, the 6-year-old Florida-bred has finished second in each of her three starts in 2017, following an allowance victory on the main track December 4. Da Wildcat Girl, with a 6-3-1-0 record on the Aqueduct main track, will be joined by Call Her Karma, Forest Pike, Midnight Champagne, Picture Day, Lady Luciano, Spectacular Flash, and Pretty Enuff.
For 4-year-olds and up at a mile, the More To Tell has drawn a full field of 10, also including River Date, Our Caravan, Instant Replay, Erik the Red, Battle Midway, Clowney, Lucky Lotto, and Shadow Rider.
Source: NYRA Communications