Backsideofthemoon looks to thwart Mr. Buff’s three-peat bid in Jazil
by Brian Bohl
Fresh off his first career triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, Repole Stable’s Backsideofthemoon will look to build on an impressive stakes score last month when he makes his 9-year-old debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Jazil going 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Backsideofthemoon reached a milestone in his 46th career start last out, earning a 106 number for his six-length gate-to-wire score in the Queens County on December 19 at the Big A. The gelded son of Malibu Moon is 2-for-2 since Rudy Rodriguez again took over his training duties. Rodriguez had conditioned Backsideofthemoon in 2019 before he was claimed and sent to Robert Klesaris.
After being claimed again for $62,500 out of a second-place effort on September 24 at Belmont, Backsideofthemoon edged Musical Heart by a neck in a race moved off the turf on November 13 before registering a career-best effort in his next race.
“He’s continued to train very good and we’re looking forward to running,” Rodriguez said. “He’s very consistent and he loves Aqueduct. The last race, he was training so good leading into it and he broke so sharp. I’m just looking forward to seeing him run here again.”
Backsideofthemoon has posted six of his eight career wins at Aqueduct, including his maiden-breaking victory at third asking back in 2015 as well as a triumph in the 2018 Jazil. Jose Lezcano, aboard for the Queens County, will have the return call from the outermost post 5.
Chester and Mary Broman’s popular New York homebred Mr. Buff has won the last two Jazil editions and will look for a three-peat in the seventh running. Trained by John Kimmel, the 7-year-old Friend Or Foe chestnut utilized a frontrunning style to win the Jazil by 5 1/4-lengths in 2019 over Sunny Ridge and by five lengths last year over returning-rival Backsideofthemoon.
Mr. Buff posted a record of three wins and two seconds from eight starts last season, which included a 20-length romp in the Haynesfield at the Big A in February and the Empire Classic at Belmont Park by 3 1/4-lengths.
The sizable gelding concluded his 2020 campaign by racing in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap and restricted Alex M. Robb just one week apart. After fading to fifth in the Cigar Mile on December 5, Mr. Buff was in tight out of the gate in the Alex M. Robb on December 12, where he tracked the early pace, but was no match for the surging Bankit, who scored by 4 3/4-lengths.
Kimmel said Mr. Buff will appreciate the time off between starts.
"The horse is doing great," Kimmel said. "He won’t be running back in a week this time. He's pretty happy right now and doing well. He's an older horse running without Lasix for the first time in a long time, so we'll see if it has really had any effect or not."
Kendrick Carmouche, the Aqueduct winter meet-leading rider, will be in the irons from post 4.
Michael Dubb’s Musical Heart will have a chance to turn the tables on Backsideofthemoon after running second to him twice in a row, starting in an optional claimer on November 13 and followed by the Queens County. The oft-claimed son of Maclean’s Music will make his 6-year-old bow after finishing first or second in his last five starts, including a 4 ¾-length victory going the Jazil distance on August 8 at Saratoga Race Course.
The Queens County effort marked Musical Heart’s first start for Rob Atras, who took over the training duties after being claimed for $62,500 out of that November tilt.
Manny Franco will pick up the mount, breaking from the inside post.
Tenderfoot, owned by trainer Charlton Baker and Francis Paolangeli, enters off a three-race winning streak. Tenderfoot will also be stepping up to stakes company for the first time in eight starts. He is 2-for-2 at the Big A, including a victory on December 3 going one mile, followed by a six-length victory at the same distance on New Year’s Day in his 4-year-old debut.
Eric Cancel will have the return engagement, drawing post 3.
Fame to Famous, 10th last out in the Grade 3 Red Smith on November 21 at Aqueduct for owner and trainer John McAllen, will be seeking his second overall win and first victory since 2019, drawing post 2 with Mike Luzzi aboard.
The Jazil is carded as Race 3 on Aqueduct’s nine-race program, which offers a first post of 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Aqueduct Racetrack, and the best way to bet every race of the winter meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.