Distance Test for Eightyfiveinafifty

Eightyfiveinafifty breaks maiden at Aqueduct.

His name alone tells you he’s fast. And Saturday, Eightyfiveinafifty will get a chance to show how far he can carry his speed when he faces five other up-and-coming 3-year-olds in the 31st running of the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack.


Having sprinted to a 17¼-length victory here on January 9, Eightyfiveinafifty stretches out from six furlongs to 1 1/16th miles around two turns of the Big A’s inner track as his connections look for an answer to the big question: Is he a Derby horse?


“If it weren’t for thinking about the Kentucky Derby, this is probably not the road I would have taken with him,” said Gary Contessa, who trains the son of Forest Camp out of Lifeinthefastlane for Harold Lerner. “Going from a maiden win to facing stakes horses around two turns is a lot to ask. But the Derby is three months away, and with a horse this fast, this is the direction we’ve had to choose.”


Eightyfiveinafifty, whose ambitious moniker was picked by Contessa on the basis of the then-unraced colt’s training, earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in his maiden score, his second start after having finished third to next-out Grade 1 winner Dublin in his debut at Saratoga Race Course in August. The 105 Beyer Speed Figure was the highest of any 3-year-old this year.


Contessa, New York’s leading trainer the past four years, had planned to take Eightyfiveinafifty to Florida for the winter, but the colt suffered an injury and remained at Aqueduct, where he will try to take the New York road to Louisville via the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes on March 6 and the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 3.


“No doubt he’s the most talented horse I’ve ever trained,” said Contessa. ‘In the morning, he gives me every indication he’s a two-turn horse. But you just never know. I’ve read all the blogs, all the handicappers, all the geniuses, and half of them think he can do it, and half say, “No way.”


With just the one victory, Eightyfiveinafifty will carry 116 pounds, including Jorge Chavez, as he breaks from post No. 2 as the 2-5 morning-line favorite against his more seasoned rivals.


Among those are Priscilla Graham’s Turf Melody, a stakes-winning bay son of Maria’s Mon who will be making the ninth start of his career at the ninth different track in the Whirlaway. Trained by H. Graham Motion, Turf Melody closed out his juvenile campaign with a come-from-behind victory in the Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park, then finished a disappointing sixth in the Grade 3 LeComte at the Fair Grounds on January 23.


“He’s coming back fairly quickly, but I don’t feel as if he got to run his race at the Fair Grounds,” said Motion. “Turning for home, he was flat. Maybe at the end of the day he’s not good enough, but he’s got to answer the question of whether he belongs with these kind of horses.”


Carrying 122 pounds, Turf Melody drew the rail and will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik.


Another stakes winner in the field is Phillip Messina’s Peppi Knows, who followed his victory in the Finger Lakes Juvenile with a solid second to the highly-regarded Buddy’s Saint in the Grade 2 Remsen at 1 1/8th mile here on November 28. The gelded son of Stephen Got Even drew post No. 3 and will carry 120 pounds, including Richard Migliore.


Starlight Partners’ Three Day Rush, a Todd Pletcher trainee, comes into the Whirlaway off a hard-fought allowance victory going six furlongs at Gulfstream Park on January 9. The son of Harlan’s Holiday took the NATC Futurity at Monmouth Park last summer, and then tired to finish fifth in the one mile, Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs in his next start. David Cohen rides the colt, 3-1 on the morning line, from post No. 5.


Wachtel Stable’s Papa’s Nice Cat, 1-1-1 from four starts against New York-breds, makes his first start in open company in the Whirlaway.  Trained by Chris Englehart and ridden by Mike Luzzi, the son of One Nice Cat finished a solid second around two turns here in his final start of 2009. He will break from the outside under 116 pounds.


Supplemented to the race is Cash is King Stable’s Afleet Again. Trained by Robert Reid, the son of Afleet Alex launched his 3-year-old campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Count Fleet Stakes at the Big A on January 2, then came back to win an allowance at Philadelphia Park at the Count Fleet distance of one mile, 70 yards on January 17. He will be ridden by Angel Serpa from post No. 4 under 118 pounds.


The field for the Whirlaway:




Turf Melody (KY)

A R Napravnik


H G Motion



Eightyfiveinafifty (KY)

J F Chavez


G C Contessa



Peppi Knows (KY)

R Migliore


T C Kreiser



Afleet Again (KY)

A Serpa


R E Reid, Jr.



Three Day Rush (KY)

D Cohen


T A Pletcher



Papa's Nice Cat (NY)

M J Luzzi


C J Englehart











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Older Comments about Distance Test for Eightyfiveinafifty...

Ron The Greek's final furlong fractions are scary good. Picture him in the CD stretch. Dublin had health issues and is a forgotten horse. Both should bring nice odds. Good Luck
Cool. I would still grab Maximus Ruler and see what you can get on Drosselmeyer. He looks like a beast.
Hes a beast. Going to Sin City on Thursday and I think I'm going to include 85in55 in a few of my Future Derby Plays. Anybody have any suggestions on some other Derby favs/longs I should play?

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