From the NYRA Media Team:

Trainer John Servis will ship a trio of top contenders for the Grade 3 Gotham card on March 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack led by Kentucky Derby hopeful Mischevious Alex in the $300,000 Gotham along with Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool chance Wentz and $125,000 Stymie hopeful Diamond King.

Cash Is King and LC Racing’s Mischevious Alex is undefeated in a pair of seven furlong stakes sprints since adding blinkers for a 9 3/4-length score in the Parx Juvenile on November 5 which was followed by a seven-length romp in his sophomore debut in the Grade 3 Swale on February 1 at Gulfstream Park.

A winner at first asking on June 25 at Parx, the Into Mischief bay just missed in his second start when second by a neck at Laurel ahead of a troubled third under Trevor McCarthy in his stakes debut in the Sapling at Monmouth Park on September 1.

“He should have won his second start, but he got himself in a bit of a jackpot and ended up checking pretty hard. He fell back and came running but it was definitely a winning race,” said Servis. “In the Sapling, Trevor thought he moved a little too soon with him. He got to the lead and then pulled himself up and got caught late.”

Next out, Mischevious Alex finished off-the-board in his turf debut in the Laurel Futurity on September 21. The talented bay exited his grass effort in good order and returned to action sporting blinkers for the first time in his Parx Juvenile romp which garnered an 87 Beyer Speed Figure.

“The grass try was just a lack of anywhere to run and we figured we’d try it and see if he liked it. Obviously, he didn’t care for it,” said Servis. “I breezed him again after that and he breezed good but he wasn’t focused. So, I went ahead and put the blinkers on him and he’s been great ever since.”

After recording a lifetime best 93 Beyer for his Swale score, Servis said Mischevious Alex will continue to race in blinkers.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. As good as he’s running with the blinkers on, I’m not going to take them off,” said Servis.

Mischevious Alex will look to pick up his first Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the Gotham which offers 50-20-10-5 to the top-four finishers. Servis said his well-traveled bay, who has posted a record of 3-1-1 from six starts at four different tracks, should have no issues with the Big A’s one-turn mile.

“Other than turf, he seems to run on anything. He should handle the one-turn no problem and hopefully we can try him two turns after that,” said Servis. “If he runs in the Gotham like he ran in his last two races, we’d try one of the Derby preps going two turns and see how he handles it.”

Diamond King, also owned by Cash Is King and LC Racing, will make his seasonal debut in the $125,000 Stymie, a one-turn mile for older horses. The 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes placed Quality Road bay boasts a record of 17-5-4-3 and will be making his seasonal and Aqueduct debut off a last-out fifth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap on October 26 at Belmont Park.

Servis said Diamond King, who captured the 2017 Heft at Laurel and the 2018 Federico Tesio at Pimlico, is training well at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.

“He’s training very good and we’re anxious to get him back racing” said Servis. “His last race came up tough, hooking Maximum Security. We decided to give him a little break after that and freshen him for the spring. He’ll make his first start back in the Stymie.”

Main Line Racing Stable’s Wentz, a lightly-raced 5-year-old chestnut, finished fourth last out in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint on May 18 at Pimlico. That effort came on the heels of a career-best 99 Beyer earned in an optional-claiming sprint score at Keeneland under the care of Servis’ son Tyler.

Servis said the Super Saver horse has trained forwardly at Palm Meadows and will make his anticipated return in the Grade 3 Tom Fool, a six-furlong sprint for older horses.

“He’s one of those horses that as soon as we get him on track, something pops up and we end up having to stop on him,” said Servis. “His race at Keeneland was a big race out there for my son. He ran huge that day. He came back at Pimlico and he just didn’t run his race. He came out of it with some issues, so we decided to give him a rest.”

Wentz posted a half-mile breeze in 48.05 seconds on Tuesday on the Palm Meadows dirt.

“We gave him the time and he’s come back great,” said Servis. “He breezes good in the morning and he’s very focused. He’s plenty fit enough and we’re looking for a big effort from him.”

Kendrick Carmouche, currently sixth in the standings with 25 wins, will have the call on all three Servis trainees. Servis and Carmouche have combined for a record of 12-15-14 in 92 career stakes starts.

“Kendrick will ride all three of them. We have a longstanding relationship with Kendrick. He’s won a lot of races for me and it’s nice to have the opportunity to put him on a few nice horses,” said Servis.


Rice to saddle pair of G3 Gotham contenders in Montauk Traffic and First Deputy; La Verdad’s first foal in training

Winter meet leading trainer Linda Rice is enjoying a solid campaign with three stakes wins at the Big A, including a milestone triumph with Scilly Cay in the Rego Park providing her with a 2,000th career win.

The NYRA mainstay will attempt to build on that success with a plethora of contenders in upcoming Big A stakes events.

Rice established a presence on the Kentucky Derby trail when George E. Hall’s Max Player racked up 10 points in taking the Grade 3 Withers on February 1 and she’ll saddle two contestants for the Grade 3 Gotham with Montauk Traffic and First Deputy.

Max Player breezed five-eighths in 1:02.40 on Wednesday morning over the Belmont Park training track.

“I bumped up his breeze a few days just because the weather was very nice and we were going to get some rain and some wind and some cold days. He worked alone and went very nicely,” Rice said.

Owned by Chris Fountoukis, Montauk Traffic was a 1 ½-length winner of the Jimmy Winkfield on February 8 following a maiden triumph on December 29 at the Big A.

The gray son of third-crop stallion Cross Traffic settled along the rail throughout the journey having to take back around the far turn as the field inched closer to the front, but was tipped out three wide and found a second gear when in the clear and powered home to victory, registering an 80 Beyer Speed Figure.

Montauk Traffic recently returned to the work tab over the Belmont Park training track when drilling five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Monday. He will see an extra eighth of a mile in distance in next Saturday’s Gotham, which is run at a one-turn mile.

“Right now, he’s a lightly raced horse. He’s run two seven-furlong races at Aqueduct,” Rice said. “I think that the added distance should be no problem at all. It should be very helpful. We’re just gaining racing experience as we go along so it’s a nice progression for him.”

Bred in Kentucky by Mike G. Rutherford, Montauk Traffic is out of the three-time stakes winning Menifee broodmare Taittinger Rose.

Calumet Farm’s First Deputy will face open company for the first time after a 5 ¼-length romp against New York-bred winners on January 23.

The son of Awesome Again broke his maiden at sixth asking and will make a return to the one-turn mile after a distant seventh in his fourth career start, which was his only off-the-board finish in seven starts.

Rice said the added experience is a plus for First Deputy and that one mile should be within his wheelhouse.

“He’s bred for the distance. He didn’t run well at the mile before but I’m hoping that he’s gaining a lot of seasoning and is more suited for it this time around,” Rice said.

Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Newly Minted is possible for the $150,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational. The three-time stakes winning daughter of Central Banker will attempt a first stakes win against open company with her threesome of stakes wins, all at different NYRA tracks, taking place against New York-breds.

“I’m not sure we’ll make that race, but it’s under consideration,” Rice said.

A winner of six consecutive starts, Wicked Trick was originally supposed to race on Thursday’s cancelled card, but Rice is calling an audible and will likely race him against stakes company in either the $150,000 Stymie going one mile or the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool at six furlongs.

Owned by Rice in partnership with Stephen G. Cooper, 16th time was the charm for the gelded 5-year-old son of Hat Trick, when breaking his maiden for a $20,000 tag last summer at Saratoga, but has found the winner’s circle in every start since then.

Rice said stakes winner Tiz He the One, who won the restricted Challedon at Laurel Park three starts back in September, also is possible for both stakes events but is more likely for the Tom Fool.

Royally-bred La Kara Mia, who has recorded two breezes at Belmont Park for Rice, is training toward her career debut. The 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is out of 2015 Champion Female Sprinter La Verdad, who also was conditioned by Rice.

“She is doing very well. She’s a big filly and we gave her a lot of time to grow up because of her size. We just brought her to New York at the beginning of the month,” Rice said. “She was training very forwardly in Ocala at Wavertree with Ciaran Dunne. So, we decided to leave her there through November and December and get some workouts down there. She’s just recently come here, and it’s exciting to have here since he’s the first foal out of La Verdad.”

Rice said La Kara Mia could have potential to race longer distances than her champion mother.

“She’s very kind like La Verdad was, who was an obvious true sprinter,” Rice said. “This filly takes after Medaglia d’Oro and looks like a filly that could get some distance which we’re excited about. All of the good fillies he’s had, like Rachel Alexandra, get a lot of ground so we’re excited about that.”

La Verdad also did not make her career debut until her sophomore campaign.

“She was big and awkward as a two year old,” Rice said of La Verdad. “I didn’t bring her along until late in her 2-year-old year.”


Mott gearing up for Gotham week with Lake Avenue in the Busher

Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, with longtime assistant Leanna Willaford in charge of his New York division, will be well represented with a number of formidable contenders pointing towards next Saturday’s Gotham card stakes.

With 85 qualifying Kentucky Oaks points up for grabs in the $250,000 Busher Invitational, Mott is expected to enter talented 3-year-old Lake Avenue. The Godolphin homebred filly, sired by Tapit, is unbeaten in two starts at Aqueduct where she won the Grade 2 Demoiselle on December 7 after impressively breaking her maiden going seven furlongs by 12 ¾ lengths in her second career start last November.

Currently under the watchful eye of Mott from his winter base at Payson Park in Florida, Lake Avenue will ship to New York next week where she will begin her 2020 campaign in the one-mile Busher.

“All reports are that she is doing well,” said Willaford. “She is expected to ship to New York next Wednesday [March 4] and from everything I’ve heard she’s continued to progress. It’s exciting because we know she likes the track and surface so we’ll continue to keep her happy.”

Pointed for next Sunday’s $125,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational is stakes placed Abounding Joy for owner WinStar Stablemates Racing.

The 5-year-old Quality Road mare will look to improve off a second-place finish in the Interborough on January 20 where she made her first start for Mott. Previously in the care of Rodolphe Brisset, she tallied three wins from six starts including a fourth-place finish in the Minaret in 2019 at Tampa.

Abounding Joy breezed four furlongs in 48.86 seconds on Monday at the Belmont Park training track.

“We’re real happy with her,” said Willaford. “The one-mile distance might be a bit of a question mark for her, but she’s coming along in the mornings and she seems to have continued to improve coming off the Interborough.”

Lastly, Willaford confirmed LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s 3-year-old colt Secret Rules would most likely be sidelined until April coming off his second-place finish in the Jimmy Winkfield on February 8.

“He was a bit under the weather following the Jimmy Winkfield,” said Willaford. “It’s unfortunate and we’ll have to stop on him now, but hopefully he’ll get back going again for April.”

Sired by Secret Circle, Secret Rules broke his maiden in his third career start on November 30 at Aqueduct and followed up with an 8 ¾ length first level allowance victory on January 10 before entering the Winkfield.


Mind Control, Joevia likely for stakes action on March 7

Trainer Gregg Sacco is considering a start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool for multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control who made his seasonal bow a winning one in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 17.

Owned by Steve Brunetti’s Red Oak Stable in partnership with Sol Kumin and Jason Monteleone’s Madaket Stable, the 4-year-old son of Stay Thirsty got the best of a three-horse photo finish last out when nosing out graded stakes winners Nicodemus and Sunny Ridge in the seven-furlong event over the Aqueduct main track.

Sacco said that he will work Mind Control on Saturday morning before making a final decision on whether he will race in the Tom Fool.

“Our first goal was the [Grade 1, $400,000] Carter Handicap on April 4,” Sacco said. “He’s just been training terrific and really jumping out of his skin. He came out of the Toboggan great and we’ll leave the final decision up to Mr. Brunetti and my brother [Rick Sacco, Racing Manager of Red Oak Stable].”

A Kentucky homebred, Mind Control is a dual Grade 1 winner at Saratoga having taken the Hopeful during his 2-year-old campaign and the H. Allen Jerkens last August.

Jeff and Michael Fazio’s stakes winner Joevia is a possibility for the $125,000 Stymie following an uncharacteristic 11th place finish in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

The son of Shanghai Bobby, who was third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes last year, arrived at the stakes event in Arkansas off of an allowance win going 6 ½ furlongs on the Aqueduct main track on January 17.

“He bumped a horse out of the way around the first turn and [jockey] Junior [Alvarado] said he was just hard to settle,” Sacco said. “The next day we shipped him to Darby Dan Farm for a little layover and he was back at Belmont the following day. Since then, he’s been doing well. His appetite is good and the trip took nothing out of him. He will work on Saturday and if he works well, we’ll take a shot in the Stymie.”


Green Light Go on hold; Life On Top hopes to reach new heights

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens will saddle well-bred maiden winner Life On Top for owner Centennial Farms in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park.

The veteran conditioner was also expected to be represented by Grade 2 Saratoga Special winner Green Light Go in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth until the Stronach Stables homebred spiked a temperature earlier in the week.

Green Light Go, a bay son of Hard Spun, graduated in July at Belmont Park and followed up with a commanding 3 3/4-length score in the Saratoga Special in August. The talented colt completed his juvenile campaign with a pacesetting second in the Grade 1 Champagne when four lengths back of recent Grade 3 Holy Bull winner Tiz the Law.

Following a third in his seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream, Jerkens was forced to stop on Green Light Go. Jerkens said there are no immediate plans for the colt.

“He’s still a little quiet but we have some cool days coming up here, so hopefully that will perk him up some,” said Jerkens.

Life On Top, a 3-year-old chestnut son of Carpe Diem-Kissed by a Star, was off-the-board on debut when sprinting six furlongs in October on the Belmont Park main track. The Kentucky-bred returned to action on the Gulfstream turf on January 18 and rallied from seventh to win a one-mile maiden tilt that garnered a 77 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He’s done well down here and really turned a corner,” said Jerkens. “We hope he’ll keep developing the right way.”

Life On Top will make his stakes debut in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile turf event featuring a field of 12 sophomores. He will leave from post 8 under returning rider Rajiv Maragh.

“Looking at the field numbers wise, it looks like he fits in there,” said Jerkens. “He’s training good since the maiden win, so we’ll give it a go.”

Purchased for $250,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Life On Top’s second dam, Turkish Tryst, produced multiple-graded stakes winner and current sire Hard Spun. Jerkens said he is hoping the promising Life On Top will be a factor in the Turf Triple series this summer on the NYRA circuit.

“That’s what we’re hoping. He just has to keep developing,” said Jerkens. “It’s been a month and a half between races, but he’s had good work in between and I like what I’m seeing. He’s eating good and his spirts are good. I just hope he keeps the good attitude and we should see some more good races from him.”

Chiefswood Stables’ Edge of Fire, who Jerkens saddled to an impressive two-length maiden win on February 1 at Gulfstream Park, was recently named the 5-1 second choice in the hypothetical Queen’s Plate Winterbook.

The Ontario-bred son of Curlin garnered a 67 Beyer for his facile score in a six-furlong maiden sprint.

“It was nice. He certainly won easily enough, but I’m not sure if it was the best maiden special field,” said Jerkens. “We’ll look to run him in an allowance race down here at the end of March.”

The $1 million Queen’s Plate, a 1 1/4-mile test set for June 27 at Woodbine Racetrack, is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown restricted to Canadian-bred sophomores. Jerkens said he is cautiously optimistic about having Edge of Fire prepared in time for the Canadian classic.

“It’s not ruled out, but I don’t think so,” said Jerkens. “He’s only had one six-furlong race and it’s a lot to ask. We’ll see how he handles this next race. He bucked his shins and was slow to come around and get strong enough to run. It took him awhile to get his act together, but once he got there he sure ran nice.”


America’s Day at the Races to feature Saturday stakes action from Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Oaklawn Park

Saturday’s edition of America’s Day at the Races, the highly acclaimed live racing television program providing nationwide thoroughbred racing coverage, will showcase live racing from Aqueduct Racetrack, Oaklawn Park and Gulfstream Park, which will host a Kentucky Derby prep race with the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth.

Presented by America’s Best Racing, Runhappy and Claiborne Farm, the February 29 edition of America’s Day at the Races will air from 3-6:30 p.m. Eastern on FS2.

The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, which offers 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, has attracted a field of 12 led by Shotski, who captured the Grade 2 Remsen in December at the Big A. The Fountain of Youth is carded as Race 14 at 6:04 p.m. Eastern on the stakes-laden card which will also include the live broadcast of the Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale (Race 10, 3:59 p.m.), Grade 3, $150,000 Canadian Turf (Race 11, 4:30 p.m.), Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (Race 12, 5:01 p.m.) and the Grade 2, $200,000 Mac Diarmida (Race 13, 5:32 p.m.) from the Hallandale Beach oval.

Saturday’s featured race at the Big A, the $100,000 Bernardini (Race 8, 4:50 p.m.), has attracted a field of 12 including a pair of entrants from trainer Rob Atras in Dynamax Prime and Heavy Roller.

Also featured on Saturday’s broadcast is the $125,000 Spring Fever (Race 9, 6:09 p.m.), a sprint for older fillies and mares from Oaklawn Park.

America’s Day at the Races will feature an Aqueduct-based crew of host Greg Wolf and analysts Andy Serling and Richard Migliore, while Gulfstream Park coverage will be anchored by Laffit Pincay and Acacia Courtney. Nancy Holthus will report from Oaklawn.


Aqueduct Winter Week 10 stakes probables

Saturday, March 7
Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham
Probable: Attachment Rate (Dale Romans); Celtic Striker (Ray Handal); First Deputy (Linda Rice); Flap Jack (Jack Sisterson); Informative (Uriah St. Lewis); Mischevious Alex (John Servis); Montauk Traffic (Rice); Necker Island (Stanley Hough); Sixto (Eric Guillot); Untitled (Mark Casse); War Stopper (Rudy Rodriguez)
Possible: Ournationonparade (Kathy Ritvo)

Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool
Probable: Bon Raison (Michael Tannuzzo) Mind Control (Greg Sacco); Wentz (Servis); Wonderful Light (Michelle Nevin)

$250,000 Busher Invitational
Probable: Lake Avenue (Bill Mott); Maedean (Mark Hennig); Master of Hope (Nevin); Panthera Onca (Brad Cox); Persisto (Kelly Breen); Water White (Rodriguez)
Possible: Glass Ceiling (Danny Gargan)

$125,000 Stymie
Probable: American Anthem (Gargan); Diamond King (John Servis); Joevia (Sacco); Stan the Man (John Terranova)
Possible: Backsideofthemoon (Robert Klesaris)

Sunday, March 8
$125 Heavenly Prize Invitational
Probable: Abounding Joy (Mott); Alphadora (Marialice Coffey); Crimson Frost (Nevin); Espresso Shot (Jorge Abreu); Happycrest (Chandradat Goberdhan); Newly Minted (Rice)
Possible: Victim of Love (Todd Beattie)