Log In

Bernardini tops Saturday card at Aqueduct

February 27, 2020

Bernardini tops Saturday card at Aqueduct
By NY Hot List Staff

Distance will be the main item on the menu Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack when the featured race is the $100,000 Bernardini Stakes.

Contested at the elongated distance of 1 5/16 miles, the Bernardini is a furlong and a half longer than the usual mile and an eighth trip around the Big A.

Handling that distance looms as Job One for the nine starters, some of whom have not raced that long.

One of them who should not be fazed by the distance is Adventist, who won the mile and a half Greenwood Cup at Parx last year by three lengths.  In his most recent start, the 7-year-old gelding was third in Aqueduct’s Jazil Stakes at a mile and an eighth, finishing five lengths behind Mr. Buff who won by the length of the stretch last Saturday in the Haynesfield Stakes.

Before that, Adventist lost by a neck in the Queens County Stakes, also at a mile and an eighth distance.

Leitone ran in last year’s Bernardini and finished sixth, 13 lengths behind. Trained by Jason Servis, he comes into the Bernardini off a third-place finish in an allowance race captured by Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston.

Backsideofthemoon was second in the Jazil and will break from the rail in Saturday’s stakes. He was fourth in the Queens County in his previous start, 1 ¾ lengths behind Adventist.

Patagonia will make his stakes debut while traveling beyond a mile and an eighth for the first time. Owner of two wins in three career starts, Patagonia scored by a neck in a Dec. 31  allowance race at a mile and an eighth for trainer Jonathan Thomas in his last start.

Trainer Rob Atras will send out two of the nine starters, both of whom are exiting the same one mile starter race. Heavy Roller was no match for runaway winner Wicked Trick in the Jan. 20 test, finishing 9 ¼ lengths back in second. Before that, in his first start for Atras, he triumphed in a $50,000 claiming race.

Atras will also saddle Dynamax Prime, who was third in the starter race, finishing 5 ½ lengths behind his stablemate. He was second last year in the $300,000 Empire Classic for New York State-breds.

“I’ve always liked (Heavy Roller). Last time, he ran a good race but I think he’s another that would benefit from added distance. He’s got a big stride and high cruising speed and can carry that to a further distance. He’s a little out of his comfort zone going a mile,” Atras said. “The starter came up stronger than I thought it would. Wicked Trick ended up being a nice one. They were just going so fast and Dynamax Prime never got a chance. The mile is a little short for him.”

The rest of the field includes Ekhtibaar, who was beaten by a head in a Feb. 1 Gulfstream Park allowance race; Armament, who was claimed out of a six-length win in a $20,000 claiming race last time out; and Blugrascat’s Smile, who also changed hands in his last start, going to trainer Gary Sciacca for $40,000 off a half-length victory.