by Keith McCalmont
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Long Lake Stable’s Stan the Man, with four wins in his last five starts, will seek his first career stakes win in Saturday’s $150,000 Stymie, a one-turn mile for 4-year-olds and upward at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Stymie is one of four stakes on Saturday’s action-packed card at Aqueduct which also includes the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham offering 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points; the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap at six furlongs for 4-year-olds and upward; and the $250,000 Busher Invitational, a one-mile test for sophomore fillies offering 50-20-10-5 qualifying points to the Kentucky Oaks.
All the action will be shown live on FOX Sports Saturday At The Races, airing 4-7 p.m. EST on FS2.
Trained by John Terranova, Stan the Man boasts a career record of 5-5-2 from 16 starts and arrives at Saturday’s test off a pair of dominating front-running wins at the Big A.
In his past five starts, only a sixth-place effort in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, after stumbling out of the gate, muddies the 5-year-old Broken Vow chestnut’s winning form.
“He’s been in great form as of late,” said Terranova. “He’s always been a real solid horse for us and he’s gradually made his way through his progressions. We feel since the Cigar Mile he has improved, so he certainly deserves a shot in here and has been training well heading into this race.”
Regular rider Dylan Davis will pilot Stan the Man from post 4.
Dennis Drazin’s Sunny Ridge, recently crowned New Jersey-bred Horse of the Year, will provide steep opposition in a talented eight-horse field. Trained by Jason Servis, the 6-year-old Holy Bull grey won the Grade 3 Withers in 2016 at Aqueduct and has proved to be a consistent check earner with just shy of $1.2-million in purse earnings.
Sunny Ridge captured the 2017 edition of the Stymie and he enjoyed a solid 2018 campaign in New York winning the State Dinner at Belmont Park along with finishing second in the Grade 2 Kelso and third in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.
Last out, Sunny Ridge finished second in the Jazil to the streaking Mr. Buff. Manny Franco retains the mount from post 2.
Vino Rosso, trained by Todd Pletcher for owners Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, will make his first start since August 25 when fifth in the Grade 1 Travers.
The 4-year-old Curlin chestnut captured the Grade 2 Wood Memorial here in impressive fashion before splitting the field when ninth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. The talented colt skipped the Preakness and rallied to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont as Justify secured Triple Crown glory.
Vino Rosso continued his good form into the Grade 2 Jim Dandy when third, defeated less than a length, behind Tenfold and Flameaway.
Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez retains the mount on Vino Rosso who has trained into Saturday’s seasonal debut at Palm Beach Downs. They will depart from the outside post.
Charles Fipke’s Title Ready, trained by Steve Asmussen, banked $293,550 in lucrative 2018 campaign that saw the now 4-year-old More Than Ready colt hit the board in both the Grade 3 Indiana Derby and the Grade 3 Discovery at the Big A.
Title Ready failed to fire last time out in the nine-furlong Jazil when fifth and will cut back in distance on Saturday to a one-turn mile, a distance he successfully traversed against optional claiming company here on December 21.
Jose Lezcano will guide Title Ready from post 5.
Completing a competitive field for the 64th running of the Stymie are Curlin’s Honor for trainer Mark Casse; California Night for trainer Michael Maker; Hero’s Welcome in the care of Gary Contessa; and Shivermetimbers who shipped in from California with Gotham headliner Instagrand for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
First post on Saturday’s 11-race card is 12:20 p.m.