Nov 26, 2021
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Independence Hall definite; Aloha West possible for G1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets

by NYRA Press Office

  • Independence Hall definite; Aloha West possible for G1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets
  • Green Light Go adds blinkers for G3 Fall Highweight
  • Venti Valentine to take on open company in G2 Demoiselle
  • Aqueduct fall meet Week 4 stakes probables

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners could have as many as two contenders for the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets, slated for Saturday, December 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack. 

Aron Wellman, managing partner of the syndicate, said multiple graded stakes winner Independence Hall is confirmed for the final Grade 1 race at NYRA for the calendar year in his last start before going to stud.

Wellman added that Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Aloha West could also run in the Cigar Mile in pursuit of an Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter. 

“Independence Hall is definite pending his next work at Churchill,” Wellman said. “The Cigar Mile is under consideration for Aloha West, but no decisions have been made.”

Trained by Michael McCarthy, Independence Hall registered a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure last out when going gate-to-wire in the Grade 2 Fayette on October 30 over a sloppy and sealed Keeneland main track.

Owned in partnership with Twin Creeks Racing Stables, WinStar Farm, Kathleen Verratti and Robert Verratti, the son of Constitution is 2-for-2 at a one-turn mile at Aqueduct when romping to a 12 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Nashua in November 2019 followed by a four-length score in the Jerome on New Year’s Day 2020. 

Aloha West, a two-time winner at Saratoga this summer, returned to the work tab on Wednesday morning for trainer Wayne Catalano, recording a half-mile move in 49.40 over the Fair Grounds Race Course main track. 

“We wanted to put the Cigar Mile in play, which is why we breezed Wednesday, but we’re monitoring him closely ahead of the race,” Wellman said. “That workout was designed to try to get a gauge on if we should pursue the race or not.”

A victory would make Aloha West the first horse to capture both the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Cigar Mile. Prior to his last out coup, which saw a 100 Beyer, the Maryland-bred son of Hard Spun was second beaten a neck in the Grade 2 Phoenix on October 8 at Keeneland. 

Green Light Go adds blinkers for G3 Fall Highweight

Stronach Stables’ homebred Green Light Go will add blinkers as he attempts to recapture his winning form in Sunday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight, a six-furlong handicap for 3-year-olds and up at the Big A.

The 4-year-old Hard Spun colt has posted five consecutive bullet breezes at Belmont in preparation for the Fall Highweight, including a five-eighths effort over the dirt training track in 1:00.17 with the blinkers on. He posted a three-furlong blowout in 36 flat Wednesday over the dirt training track without blinkers.

"He worked in them the other day and it was fine. I didn't see much difference,” Jerkens said. “I thought when I had him before he was a little timid between horses and that's why I thought it would make a bit of a difference.”

Out of the stakes-winning Pleasantly Perfect mare Light Green, Green Light Go won 2-of-3 juvenile starts in 2019, including a win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special ahead of a runner-up effort to Tiz the Law in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont.

He made a pair of sophomore starts, both at Gulfstream Park, finishing third in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Swale and second in the 6 1/2-furlong Roar.

"He acted a little bit nervous in the paddock for the Champagne and I thought he was starting to go the other way a little bit. He ran well but he's better than that,” Jerkens said. "We went to Florida and he just didn't develop the right way. He went back to Palm Meadows and just didn't develop. I only ran him twice down there. The intention was to stretch him out but he didn't train good enough and that's why we just sprinted him."

Green Light Go was transferred to Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer for the first four starts of his 2021 campaign, posting an optional-claiming win in April traveling 1 1/16-miles at Oaklawn Park. The colt made his most recent effort in the care of trainer Mike Doyle when sixth in the six-furlong Grade 3 Vigil on August 1 over the Tapeta main track at Woodbine.

Jerkens said the colt is coming into the Fall Highweight in good order.

"I've schooled him twice here. He got hot the other day and we took him again today and he was much better," Jerkens said. "He's the best I've seen him look physically since early on in his career."

Green Light Go will carry 129 pounds when exiting post 2 under Dylan Davis.

Chiefswood Stables homebred Weyburn finished eighth last out in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby on September 25 at Parx.

The Pioneerof the Nile colt, who won the Grade 3 Gotham here in March, breezed a half-mile in 49.05 November 16 on the Belmont dirt training track.

Jerkens said the Ontario-bred Weyburn will ship to Florida next week and stay in training with conditioner Brendan Walsh.

“He'll go to Brendan Walsh for the winter and I'll get him back in the spring,” Jerkens said.

Jerkens will saddle Kingfield Stables’ Gun Maestro in Saturday’s opener at Aqueduct, a six-furlong maiden special weight sprint over the main track for 2-year-olds.

The Gun Runner bay is out of the Street Cry mare Stradivarius, who is a half-sister to 2010 Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner Eskendereya.

Gun Maestro was a wide-traveling fifth in his November 6 debut at the same distance.

"He's probably not a six-furlong horse but the track is a little on the slow side and I didn't want to send him further yet. I think ultimately he'll want to go further," Jerkens said.

Davis retains the mount from post 3.

Venti Valentine to take on open company in G2 Demoiselle

Two sharp victories in as many starts against New York-breds at Belmont Park has given Dan Zanatta and Vince Roth of NY Final Furlong Racing Stable enough confidence to try Venti Valentine against graded stakes company in next Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Demoiselle offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, slated for May 6 at Churchill Downs.

The Jorge Abreu-trained daughter of Firing Line was a deep closing winner in her September 26 debut, winning by a nose going six furlongs. She parlayed her winning effort into stakes company in the October 30 Maid of the Mist at one mile, which she won by 3 ¾ lengths over a sloppy and sealed main track.

Zanatta said a good result on Saturday could see Venti Valentine return for the $250,000 Busher Invitational on March 5 at the Big A which offers 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points. 

“We’ve been pointing to the Demoiselle since the Maid of the Mist,” Zanatta said. “If [the Maid of the Mist] were a month earlier, we would have pursued the Breeders’ Cup [Juvenile Fillies]. She’ll run next Saturday and then go to Florida to train at Palm Meadows for the winter and we’ll look at running in the Busher Invitational next year.”

Venti Valentine is a half-sister to multiple stakes-winning New York-bred Espresso Shot, who recently sold for $300,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale to Spendthrift Farm. Both are out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Glory Gold. A stakes winner at ages 2, 3, 4 and 5, Espresso Shot retired with earnings in excess of a half-million dollars through a 24-5-3-4 record. 

Zanatta expressed plenty of promise in Venti Valentine, who he said is already showing signs of being a more talented specimen than her accomplished older sister. 

“Both Espresso Shot and Venti Valentine came through the exact same program. They were broken by Brandon and Aly Rice at RiceHorse Stable in Florida and started training with Abreu as a 2-year-old in Saratoga,” Zanatta said. “She’s bigger and stronger as a 2-year-old than Espresso Shot is as a 5-year-old. She’s lived up to the potential so far. The way she trains and gallops out, she’s more inclined to get two turns.” 

Zanatta added that Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, a seven-time winner of the Demoiselle, is scheduled to ride Venti Valentine in the Demoiselle.

Aqueduct fall meet Week 4 stakes probables

Saturday, December 4

G1 Cigar Mile

Probable: Americanrevolution (Todd Pletcher), Code of Honor (Shug McGaughey), Following Sea (Pletcher), Ginobili (Richard Baltas), Independence Hall (Michael McCarthy), Ny Traffic (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Olympiad (Bill Mott)

Possible: Aloha West (Wayne Catalano), Plainsman (Brad Cox)

G2 Remsen

Probable: Eloquist (Butch Reid, Jr.), Forced Ranking (Chad Brown), Mo Donegal (Pletcher), Mr Jefferson (Michael Trombetta), Overstep (Pletcher), Unbridled Bomber (James Ryerson), Who Hoo That’s Me (Jorge Abreu), Zandon (C. Brown)

G2 Demoiselle

Probable: Distinctlypossible (C. Brown), Full Count Felicia (Chad Summers), Magic Circle (Rudy Rodriguez), Nest (Pletcher), Tap the Faith (Christophe Clement), Venti Valentine (J. Abreu)

G3 Go for Wand

Probable: Bella Vita (Simon Callaghan), Lady Rocket (Cox), Sharp Starr (Horacio DePaz), Truth Hurts (Summers)

Sunday, December 5

$150K NYSSS Staten Island

Probable: Awillaway (Mitchel Friedman), Bank Sting (John Terranova), Byhubbyhellomoney (Bob Dunham), Fight on Lucy (Pat Kelly), The Important One (Steve Asmussen), Trinni Luck (Rodriguez)

$150K NYSSS Thunder Rumble

Probable: Captain Bombastic (Asmussen), Hold the Salsa (Richard Lugovich), Jemography (Mark Hennig), Market Alert (Ryerson), My Boy Tate (Michelle Nevin), Rinaldi (H. James Bond.), Wild Banker (Summers)

Possible: The King Cheek (Jamie Ness)

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