By Matt Shifman
To celebrate the New Year, there will be racing at Aqueduct for the four days from December 29 to January 1 with at least one stakes race per day.
Saturday, Dec. 29 – East View – 2YO fillies (NY-bred), 1 mile
Saturday, Dec. 29 – Alex M. Robb – 3YO and up (NY-bred), 1 1/8 miles
Sunday, Dec. 30 – Bay Ridge – 3YO and up fillies and mares (NY-bred), 1 1/8 miles
Monday, Dec. 31 – Damon Runyan – 2YO (NY-bred), 1 mile
Tuesday, Jan. 1 – Jerome – 3YO, 1 mile, Kentucky Derby prep series
The $100,000 East View for 2-year-old New York-bred fillies drew a field of 11 that sets up to be a very interesting betting race. The East View headlines as a battle between the two likely favorites, Sassy Agnes and Forever Changed, but they are not the only ones that handicappers should keep consider as contenders.
Sassy Agnes is the leader of this NY-bred division with an overall record of 6: 3-2-0 which includes three consecutive stakes wins and most recently a second at Aqueduct. All those starts were against fellow state-breds.
Trainer Linda Rice brings her back on two-weeks rest and stretches her out for the first time in the one-turn mile. The daughter of Central Banker sold for $105,000 as a 2-year-old and she has won just shy of $200,000 already.
“I think there’s a good chance she’ll be on the lead going a mile, but she showed the other day that she can settle off of it and come back again,” said Rice.
On the other hand, Forever Changed will be making her first start in a stakes race after stepping up to win a NY-bred allowance going the mile distance by a widening margin of 2 ½-lengths.
“She’s an improving sort. To me, it seems she wants to go long. Her last race showed that,” said trainer Charlie Baker. “She’s coming into the race well and I really like her. I think she’s moving forward with every start. She has tactical speed, but when she trains it seems the farther she goes the better she goes. Last race, her first time going long, she was very game. She got trapped and she got out. She was bumped pretty hard and still dug in and drew off late. I think when she gets a good trip, she’ll show she’s great going long.”
Handicappers should be sure to consider Espresso Shot, Take Me to Hardoon, and Three Birds when preparing to bet on this race.
Last time out in the Key Cents, Espresso Shot got class relief when dropping out of a graded turf stake and then finished second between Sassy Agnes and Take me to Hardoon for former Chad Brown assistant Jorge Abreu.
“Since day one she’s been training like a good horse and doing everything the right way. I took a shot there [in the Jessamine] and I don’t think she liked the turf as much as I thought she would. With the Keeneland turf, they either like it or they don’t. But she seems to handle the dirt very well,” said Abreu.
Last time, Take Me to Hardoon dropped out of the Grade 1 Frizette and ran a big race to be third, just a neck behind Espresso Shot. Expect the Jeremiah Englehart trainee to improve off that race as the third betting choice at best.
Finally, Three Birds comes into this race as a New York Hot List “B” horse. She had a rough trip down the stretch when she finished second behind Forever Changed in their most recent start three weeks ago. This one will provide very generous odds and has a good chance to hit the board.
The East View is carded as race six out of nine and kicks off the late Pick 4 with post time scheduled for 2:47pm ET.