Joining Calculator on the same Trojan Nation, who is 30-1 in the morning-line.afternoon flight from Southern California to New York was Wood Memorial starter
Larry Collmus has brought his eye-in-the-sky vantage point back to the Big A in time forGrade 1 Wood Memorial, resuming his regular announcing duties at the New York Racing Association Thursday afternoon.
Collmus arrived earlier this week from Gulfstream Park, where he has served as the track's winter announcer since 2007.
"It was a fun winter in Florida," said Collmus. "I enjoyed the meet at Gulfstream but it's great to be back here."
Splitting his time between the NYRA circuit and Gulfstream, Collmus has arguably seen more than his fair share of leading Kentucky Derby contenders in the flesh this season, including Grade 3 Gotham winner and expected Wood favorite Shagaf, who won an optional claiming contest at the south Florida track by two lengths in January.
"I saw Shagaf down there and he looked great then, and so far so good up here too," he said. "But it seems to be a wide open Wood this year; I think there are a couple of horses that have a reasonable chance in here."
But it was Nyquist's powerhouse performance in the Grade 1 Florida Derby last weekend that has understandably stamped the largest impression on the veteran race caller.
"You had to be impressed with Nyquist in the Florida Derby," he said. "It looked to me that he was just playing around at the end. Mohaymen coming into the race looked fantastic and he couldn't keep up with him, so you've got to think Nyquist is the top of the division right now. And Gun Runner is good too, his Louisiana Derby was impressive.
"Of course, we've got four big ones to go," added Collmus, who has called the Triple Crown series for NBC Sports since 2011. "We'll find out a whole lot more after these last four preps and get a better picture going into the Derby, but, for now, Nyquist is the leader."
Trainer Larry Rivelli will find himself in an uncommon position Saturday afternoon when he saddles Cocked and Loaded for the Grade 3 Bay Shore in the Aqueduct paddock - two stalls down from Richie the Bull, a horse that was bred and trained by Rivelli before being sold over the winter.
"I've got a lot of interest in this race: a horse that I bred against a horse that I bought," Rivelli joked.
Owned by Patricias Hope LLC and Richard Ravin, Cocked and Loaded will be making his 3-year-old debut in the seven-furlong Bay Shore, returning from a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he finished fifth to reigning Kentucky Derby contender Nyquist.
Cocked and Loaded, the 6-1 third-choice on the morning line, joined Rivelli's string last spring. The son of Colonel John won his stakes unveiling by a half-length in the Tremont in June at Belmont Park and eventually closed out his 2-year-old campaign in the Juvenile having posted three wins from six starts over five different racetracks.
"He had a pretty busy year last year so we gave him plenty of time off," said Rivelli. "Coming off the bench, we figured this would be a good spot to come back. He's training great, I'd say better than last year even. It's a tough field but he couldn't be doing any better."
Winner of his two-turn debut in the Grade 3 Iroquois by two lengths last fall, Cocked and Loaded will likely stretch out again down the road, Rivelli said, and could possibly even make an appearance on the Kentucky Derby undercard onat Churchill Downs.
"Depending on how he runs, maybe we'll point to the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day," he said. "Then, depending on how he runs there, maybe we'll look at the Preakness. I generally don't want to plan that far ahead because a lot can happen. We're taking it one race at a time."
Richie the Bull, meanwhile, will be making his second start for his new connections following a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Swale in January at Gulfstream. Now owned by Richies Usual Suspects and trained by Joan Scott, Richie the Bull was purchased privately after a 9 ¼-length victory in the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity last December at Hawthorne Racecourse.
Richie the Bull is a half-brother to stakes winner Dom the Bomb, who also won the Jim Edgar after romping in the Sun Power as a 2-year-old in 2015. Out of Richiesgirlgotgame, the Benny the Bull colt was bred in Illinois by Rivelli and Ravin, co-owner of Cocked and Loaded.
"He's a pretty nice horse," Rivelli said of his former charge. "I still own the mare. She had two foals and both have turned out to be stakes winners. We just lucked out with that mare, it wasn't anything we could've predicted.
"It was a fair price for everybody involved so we decided to sell him, it wasn't like there was anything we didn't like about the horse," he continued, adding: "but I'm not sure if I'll happy or sad if he beats me."
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is plotting a racing schedule for newly crowned New York-bred Horse of the Year, Effinex, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.52 at Belmont Park .
Multiple graded stakes winner Takeover Target will go to postas the expected favorite in the one-mile, $100,000 Danger's Hour at Aqueduct Racetrack, NYRA's first turf stakes of 2016.
Installed at 7-5 on the morning line, Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's 4-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday closed out his sophomore campaign in October with a victory in the Grade 3 Hill Prince. The Chad Brown trainee has returned this year with a pair of off-the-board finishes, checking in fifth in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park, before finishing fourth in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on.
Takeover Target will be ridden by his regular jockey, Irad Ortiz, Jr. from the outside post.
Drawing the rail, Legendary will be looking to get back on track after a seventh-place finish in the Gulfstream Turf for trainer Niall Saville. The 7-year-old gelding, 7-2 on the morning line, will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez.
Also on tap for the Danger's Hour are Lubash, recently crowned New York-bred turf male by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders for the second year in a row, will make his 9-year-old debut for Aliyu Ben J Stables and trainer Christophe Clement; Fredericksburg for Ramona S Bass LLC and trainer Michael Matz; Trinity Farm homebred Macagone for the barn of Michelle Nihei; Bill Mott-trainedMosler for Adele Dilschneider; and recent claimer winner Late Night Lu for Joe Sharp. Send It In is entered for the main track only.