Preakness Champ Coming to Big a

Shackleford To Run On Wood Undercard

Shackleford, winner of the 2011 Preakness Stakes, will be among a star-studded cast of horses lining up for the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap on Wood Memorial Day at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, Apr. 7.

Shackleford, pictured prepping for last year’s Belmont Stakes, will run in the Apr. 7 Carter Handicap.

Trainer Dale Romans identified two main factors that went into the decision to run the four-year-old Forestry colt in the seven-furlong race.

“He has already proven that he can run well going one turn,” said Romans. “This is also a great spot to prep for the Met Mile (Grade 1, $750,000, May 28 at Belmont Park).”

The Carter will be Shackleford’s second start of the year; he finished seventh in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 11 at Gulfstream Park.

“He has run subpar before and has always come back to redeem himself,” Romans said of the Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedgeowned speedster. “We’re looking for a big effort [in the Carter].”

Shackleford closed out his ambitious 2011 campaign with a secondplace finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs. He hasn’t run in a seven-furlong race since breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27, 2010.

The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, Caleb’s Posse, is also expected among the entrants in the Carter after suffering a neck defeat in his 2012 debut, the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct on Mar. 3.

Multiple graded stakes winner Calibrachoa, who won the Tom Fool with racing’s top Beyer Speed Figure this year, a 111, is also likely for the Carter, along with Emcee and Capt. Candyman Can, the Tom Fool’s third- and fourth-place finishers, respectively.

The Carter Handicap is one of a number of stakes races for the Apr. 7 card, which features the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial. Hansen, highlighted by 2011 juvenile champion and Gotham Stakes winner, is among those scheduled to run in the Wood Memorial.

The Grade 3, $250,000 Comely Stakes for three-year-old fillies and the Grade 2, $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes for three-year-old sprinters are also on the Apr. 7 undercard.

‘Agave’ kisses field goodbye

Undefeated Agave Kiss stretched her winning streak to four last Saturday afternoon, Mar. 10, with a frontrunning, three-length victory over Corderosa in Aqueduct’s Grade 3, $150,000 Cicada Stakes for threeyear old fillies.

After a brief tussle for the lead with Alydarla at the start, Agave Kiss quickly cleared the field and rolled through an opening quarter-mile in 23.12 seconds.

Widening her advantage as the half went in 46.24, the Lion Heart filly turned for home with her closest rival five lengths back, and was never threatened through the stretch, coming home in 1:11.76 for the six furlongs.

“She improved a little bit more today,” said wining jockey Ryan Curatolo. “She did everything great.”

It was the second straight stakes win, and first in a graded event, for the Flying Zee Racing Stable colorbearer, who captured the $75,000 Ruthless Stakes on Jan. 14. In 2011, Agave Kiss won a maiden race at Belmont Park and an allowance at the Big A by a combined margin of 16 3/4 lengths.

“I’m very, very happy with the way she ran today,” said winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez. “Maybe she needed this race. Maybe we haven’t gotten to the bottom of her yet. Hopefully, she keeps improving. I don’t know [how good she can be]. We won’t know until somebody gets close to her and we find out what kind of heart she has.”

Sent off as the 1-4 favorite, Agave Kiss returned $2.50 for a $2 win bet and earned $90,000, nearly doubling her bankroll to $184,200.

Runner-up Corderosa was 6 1/4 lengths clear of Alydarla, who was followed under the wire by Princess Reyana and Nitara. Although all four of Agave Kiss’s victories have come at six furlongs, Rodriguez said the $250,000 Comely Stakes was under consideration for her next start.

“We’ll see how she comes back, discuss with the owners, and then see what we might do,” said Rodriguez. “If everything goes well, our longterm plan is the Prioress [Stakes] (Grade 1, $300,000, six furlongs, Saratoga Race Course, Aug. 4) and Test [Stakes] (Grade 1, $500,000, seven furlongs, Saratoga, Aug. 25).”

Three straight for ‘Wildcat’

Hardened Wildcat picked up his third straight victory and first in a stakes last Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct, catapulting from last to first to take the 111th running of the $100,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela.

Breaking from post position two under Junior Alvarado, Hardened Wildcat settled at the back of the pack as How Do I Win led through an opening quarter mile in 23.32 and a half in 46.72. Advancing around the turn, the gelding turned for home four wide and closed down the center ofthetracktoposta13/4-lengthvictory over uncoupled entrymate Beggarthyneighbor, also trained by Chad Brown.

The winner’s final time for six furlongs over the fast inner track was 1:10.89 and he returned $6.20 as the 2-1 favorite in the field of six threeyear olds.

“I rode him last time; I was kind of close and he didn’t finish that well, even though he won,” said Alvarado. “[Today] I thought it would be better to take him back and make one run. He responded really good for me. They went in [1:10.89] and when I asked him he responded right away. Last time I was pushing him too much to be close and he didn’t have a good kick at the end. It worked out well.”

A New Farm homebred by Hard Spun, Hardened Wildcat was a second out maiden winner at Aqueduct on Jan. 14 and prevailed by threequarters of a length in a first-level allowance on Feb. 10. His first stakes victory was worth $60,000, pushing his bankroll to $134,700.

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