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Marriedtothemusic expected to set fast tempo in Hollie Hughes

By Jon Forbes | 02/15/2014 03:10 PM ET
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

Marriedtothemusic, a winner of two straight in allowance company, will step up into stakes competition facing New York-bred sprinters on Monday in the $100,000 Hollie Hughes, the Presidents Day feature at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Dangled for a $35,000 claiming price earlier in his career, Marriedtothemusic has won four of his past six starts, none for a tag. After finishing second in both the Claramount overnight stakes and in an optional claimer at Saratoga in August, Marriedtothemusic returned from a five-month layoff to take an entry-level allowance by six lengths on January 18 at Aqueduct and then prevailed by 9 ¾ lengths in an optional claimer on January 31 at the Big A. All four starts came against New York-breds.

"He's coming back in 17 days, and that's a bit of a concern, but he's carrying good flesh, eating so well, and acting so strong," said trainer Dominic Galluscio. I felt there was somewhat of an opportunity with Palace and Moonlight Song not [entered in the race]."

Marriedtothemusic, a 4-year-old Disco Rico colt owned by DutchessViews Farm, has led at every call in all five of his career wins.

"The time of his last race was very fast, but time is a relative thing. I feel like he has a pace advantage," said Galluscio.

C.C. Lopez will ride Marriedtothemusic for the first time in the six-furlong Hollie Hughes.

"Cornelio [Velasquez] knows him well, but he went to ride Palace in Maryland, and I'm very confident with Chuckie Lopez," said Galluscio.

Marriedtothemusic, the 9-5 favorite on the morning line, drew post position 1.

Trainer David Jacobson will be represented by three horses in the Hollie Hughes: Johannesburg Smile (6-1) and the coupled entry of Be Bullish and Notmyfirstime (2-1).

Johannesburg Smile, a 7-year-old, was previously trained by Galluscio, for whom he won a pair of overnight stakes. He was claimed from Galluscio by Todd Pletcher out of a victory in an open optional claimer in January 2013 and then has finished second in the 2013 Grade 3 Toboggan last February, seventh in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap in March, third 19 days later in the Composed Word overnight stakes for New York-breds, and fifth in an optional claimer on December 4. Jacobson and Gold Square Farm claimed him for $100,000 out of his most recent start.

"He'll come from off the pace," said Jacobson. "We've been working on him and he's been doing really well. He's a question mark right now; we'll see how he responds to being in my barn for a while. He likes the Aqueduct inner track, but he likes it anywhere, I think. He's just a hard-hitting horse."

Chris DeCarlo will ride Johannesburg Smile from post 3.

Be Bullish will be competing in the Hollie Hughes for the fifth time, having finished third in 2009, first in 2011, and third again in 2012 and 2013 for four different trainers. Jacobson trained him for the 2013 Hollie Hughes but lost him to a $25,000 claim in July. Be Bullish changed hands via the claim box once more before Jacobson took him back for $25,000 out of a sixth-place finish in an optional claimer for New York-breds in November at Aqueduct.

Since then, Be Bullish has raced twice at Aqueduct, taking an optional claimer for New York-breds by 2 ¾ lengths on January 5 and missing by a nose when second to Night Maneuver after leading in deep stretch of an open $50,000 claimer on January 30.

"Be Bullish, 96 Beyer last time, he's as good as he's ever been," said Jacobson. "It looked like he was tailing off when I lost him, and he was. He showed some signs of life with [trainer] Laura [Perillo from July-September]. That [optional claimer on January 5], he just played with them that day. He got beat by Night Maneuver, who I claimed that day and is a legitimate stakes horse. [Night Maneuver] would have been in here if I had him long enough. Be Bullish definitely fits in here."

Taylor Rice will ride Be Bullish from post 2.

Like Be Bullish, Notmyfirstime is owned by Drawing Away Stable and Jacobson, who claimed the son of Scat Daddy for $50,000 in August. Fifth in an optional claimer for New York-breds in September at Belmont and second in a $35,000 conditioned claiming race in December at Aqueduct, Notmyfirstime took a $30,000 conditioned claiming race by three lengths on December 26 and was second by a neck in an optional claimer on February 8.

"The big surprise is Notmyfirstime," said Jacobson. "I don't know how he got beat [on February 8]. He's got an advantage because he's running back quicker. With all the training we've been missing it's not going to affect him as much as it could affect the other horses."

Eddie Castro takes over aboard Notmyfirstime, who drew post five.

The field also includes Mine Over Matter, a four-time stakes winner who is unraced since finishing fourth in the Hudson Handicap in October at Belmont, and Freudian Dilemma, who is cross entered in an allowance on Monday at Parx Racing.

The field for the $100,000 Hollie Hughes (NYB):










Be Bullish (NY)


T B. Rice


D Jacobson



Notmyfirstime (NY)


E Castro


D Jacobson



Marriedtothemusic (NY)


C C. Lopez


D G. Galluscio



Johannesburg Smile (NY)


C P. DeCarlo


D Jacobson



Mine Over Matter (NY)


I Ortiz, Jr.


M E. Hushion



Freudian Dilemma (NY)


M Franco


C Doran