From the NYRA Media Team:

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez reported that all was well with Repole Stable’s Backsideofthemoon, who registered his first stakes win in nearly three years when capturing the nine-furlong $100,000 Queens County on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The 8-year-old son of Malibu Moon recorded a 105 Beyer for the six-length victory, where he led at every point of call while setting an easy tempo up front before kicking clear under jockey Jose Lezcano. He boasts a record of 47-8-9-7 and $722,216 in earnings through a career that began in September 2015.

Backsideofthemoon appears to have an affinity for the Aqueduct main track, as six of his nine career victories have taken place there, including a triumph in the Jazil in January 2018 for former trainer Leo O’Brien.

Rodriguez claimed Backsideofthemoon from O’Brien in August 2019 and two starts later won going a one-turn mile at Aqueduct under Rodriguez’s tutelage before being claimed by trainer Robert Klesaris. Rodriguez then claimed him back in September after a second-place finish in a one-mile allowance optional claiming event at Belmont Park.

“He’s a cool horse to be around. He likes his job,” Rodriguez said. “When I claimed him before he was good and Bobby [Klesaris] did a good job of keeping everything together. There aren’t too many horses his age that run the way he runs.”

Rodriguez gelded Backsideofthemoon after claiming him for the first time last August.

“The only thing we did was geld him when I claimed him before,” Rodriguez said. “He always trained well and if you look at him physically, he looks like a stakes level horse. He’s a nice, solid strong, big horse. The coat he has right now looks like he’s in Florida. He has a very shiny coat and not many horse, in the winter have that kind of coat.”

Rodriguez said he was unsure as to where the seasoned veteran’s next start would take place, but that the $100,000 Jazil on January 23 could be in play.

“I’ll talk to the boss and see what he says,” Rodriguez said. “He ran a big number, so we’ll keep it together and hope for the best.”

Rodriguez also reported EV Racing’s Eagle Orb, the New York-bred son of Orb who won the November 14 Notebook at the Big A, could target either the $150,000 Jerome on January 1 at Aqueduct – a 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifier – or stay against state-breds in the $100,000 Rego Park on January 11 at going 6 ½ furlongs.

“We have those two races in mind for him and me and the owner are still trying to decide which spot is best. He’s training well,” Rodriguez said.

Bred in New York by Barry Ostrager, Eagle Orb is out of the Harlan’s Holiday mare Lady On Holiday and was purchased for 95,000 from the Saratoga New York-bred Yearling Sale last August.


Thomas pleased with first time starter Nicky the Vest

Robert LaPenta’s Nicky the Vest impressed trainer Jonathan Thomas in his career debut win in the finale on Friday’s program, where he led gate-to-wire in securing a 3 ¼-length triumph under Kendrick Carmouche in a time of 1:40.67.

Bred in New York by Highclere, the juvenile son of freshman sire Runhappy garnered an 82 Beyer first out against his Empire State-bred counterparts at odds of 5-1 going a one-turn mile.

Thomas has not thought past Nicky the Vest’s debut victory but will sort out his options and expressed excitement in what the future holds.

“The scenario played out well and the horse did everything you could ask a firster to do,” Thomas said. “We’re still going to see how he comes out of his race. I’m sure we’ll keep options pen and see how things shake out. He ran a good number, a good number no matter the company. We’re really happy with what we saw the other day. He had been training nicely in the morning, so it was good to see that replicated in the afternoon.”

Nicky the Vest is out of the Cat Thief mare Tazarine, whose six offspring of racing age are all winners. He was purchased for $110,000 from the 2019 OBS October Yearling Sale from consigner Stuart Morris.


New Year’s Eve card to feature mandatory payouts of the Empire 6, Early Pick 5 and Late Pick 5

The New York Racing Association announced the New Year’s Eve card at Aqueduct Racetrack will feature mandatory payouts of the Empire 6, Early Pick 5 and Late Pick 5 wagers, in accordance with New York State Gaming Commission rules.

The final day of live racing for 2020 at the Big A on Thursday, December 31 will be highlighted by the Empire 6, which boasted a jackpot of $139,360.46 heading into Sunday’s 10-race card at Aqueduct. No live racing will be conducted at the track from December 21-30.

The Empire 6 requires the bettor to select the first-place finisher of the final six races of the day’s card. On non-mandatory payout days, if one unique ticket exists, then 100 percent of the net pool, plus the jackpot carryover if applicable, will be paid to the winner. If there is no unique wager selecting the first-place finisher in all six races, then 75 percent of the day’s net pool will be distributed to those who selected the first-place finisher in the greatest number of races. The remainder will be added into the jackpot and carried to the next day’s Empire 6.


Aqueduct winter meet $150,000 Jerome probables

Friday, January 1

The Jerome for 3-year-olds offers 10-4-2-1 G1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers

Probable: Capo Kane (Harold Wyner), Pickin’ Time (Kelly Breen), Swill (Brad Cox)

Possible: Eagle Orb (Rudy Rodriguez), Hold the Salsa (Richard Lugovich)