(Eagle Orb to make next start in Jerome / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

E.V. Racing’s Eagle Orb is training forwardly off a victory in the Notebook on November 14 and could make his next start in the $150,000 Jerome on New Year’s Day at Aqueduct Racetrack, trainer Rudy Rodriguez said Sunday morning.

The Jerome, for newly minted 3-year-olds going one-mile, is a prep for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1, offering 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to the top-four finishers.

Eagle Orb tied a personal-best with a 74 Beyer Speed Figure for his 2 3/4-length victory in the Notebook against fellow New York-breds going six furlongs, marking his first stakes win.

Eagle Orb won his debut on August 21 at Saratoga Race Course and stepped up to stakes company to run second to next-out winner Thin White Duke in the Funny Cide on September 4 at the historic track.

Bred by Barry Ostrager, Eagle Orb is 2-2-0 in five career starts and has been breezing at Belmont since the Notebook as he prepares to stretch back out to one mile for the first time since running second to Brooklyn Strong, another next-out winner, in the Sleepy Hollow on October 24 for state-bred juveniles.

Rodriguez said he’s confident to see Eagle Orb compete against open company after a successful 2-year-old campaign.

“We want to stretch him out to the Jerome coming up,” Rodriguez said. “He always tries. He shows he can run good, so we want to give him the opportunity to try that. So far, so good. He’s doing everything we asked him. He looks pretty good and if he can run well there, we’ll have more confidence in him.”

“Right now, his options are open, but we need to keep dreaming. That’s what we are here for,” he added.

On Saturday, Yankee Division earned blacktype in his stakes debut, running third in the Alex M. Robb at the Big A. Competing at the longest distance of his career at 1 1/8 miles for just the second time in 14 starts, the 4-year-old son of Midnight Lute was last-of-six through the opening half-mile before rallying for third under jockey Jorge Vargas, Jr. finishing five lengths back to winner Bankit and runner-up and two-time defending Alex M. Robb-winner Mr. Buff.

Yankee Division, owned by Rodriguez with Michael Imperio and Andrew Gurdon, has registered three consecutive 86 Beyers, including for is win against allowance company on September 28 at Finger Lakes.

“He’s looking good; it was a good performance,” Rodriguez said. “It came up a very tough race, but he was impressive. I think the distance was key for him. He’s a big horse and he likes to run and run. The only time I tried to run him long before, it was at Finger Lakes and two turns. He was training good heading into the race, so I was happy.”

Rodriguez said he might try to maximize remaining conditions before returning to stakes company in 2021 for his 5-year-old year, but left open the possibility of higher competition for the gelding who was bred in New York by Carolyn Vogel.

Repole Stable’s Backsideofthemoon was nominated to the $100,000 Queens County on Saturday, but Rodriguez instead entered him in an allowance optional claiming contest on Thursday in Aqueduct’s Race 5.

The gelded son of Malibu Moon will complete his 8-year-old year in the one-mile contest looking to build on his win against optional claimers on November 13 at Aqueduct going 1 1/8 miles in a race that was moved off the turf.

Rodriguez said the veteran of 46 starts is planning to still run as a 9-year-old in 2021 and return to stakes company; a level at which he competed four times this year, including a second in the Jazil in January and third in the Stymie in March at Aqueduct.

“We’re just trying to keep him happy and he’s a good horse to be around,” Rodriguez said. “He always tries and he has a good body and good size. We nominated him to the [Queens County] because there aren’t that many options this time of year, but we think he’ll be in a good spot [Thursday] and then we’ll see [what next year brings].”

(Bankit / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Bankit registers 98 Beyer Speed Figure for Alex M. Robb triumph; future plans are in flux

Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s hard-knocking New York-bred Bankit ended a 13-race drought in Saturday’s Alex M. Robb over multiple stakes-winner Mr. Buff.

The son of New York stallion Central Banker matched his career-best 98 Beyer for the 4 ¾-length victory, a number which he also recorded when finishing third to Funny Guy in the Commentator on June 12 at Belmont Park.

Bankit, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, was 0-for-11 during his 2020 campaign until the Alex M. Robb but earned placing six times against stakes company, including two narrow second-place finishes in the Fifth Season and Grade 3 Razorback at Oaklawn Park over the winter, where he was only a head shy of victory.

“He’s been running in some pretty tough company from time to time and always seems to show up and bring home a check,” said David Fiske, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ racing and bloodstock manager. “He’s a durable, consistent horse. He always seems to show up no matter who you run him against.”

No future plans have yet been made for Bankit, but Fiske said that options include shipping down to Asmussen’s winter division at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, or staying in New York.

“We haven’t really talked about it much. We were all just excited about him winning and the way he won yesterday, he looked great against that bunch,” Fiske said. “He seems to like Aqueduct pretty well. Whether he’ll go back down to Oaklawn or not, I don’t know. Some of that may depend on weather. Sometimes, you get long stretches where you can’t train and stay in a regular rhythm in works.”

The Alex M. Robb marked Bankit’s third stakes victory and fourth overall win through a 26-race career. During his juvenile season, he was an emphatic 5 ¾-length winner of the Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park and took Finger Lakes’ New York Derby the following year.

Bred in the Empire State by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing, Bankit is out of the Colonel John mare Sister in Arms. He was purchased for $260,000 from the OBS March Sale in 2018.

Aqueduct winter meet Week 2 stakes probables

Saturday, December 19

$100,000 Queens County

Probable: Alkhaatam (Todd Pletcher), Forewarned (Uriah St. Lewis), Mirinaque (Wesley Ward), Musical Heart (Rob Atras)